Where’s the Character, Integrity in College Sports?

Conversations with Distinguished Writer Billy Reed Begin Sept. 16 with ex-NCAA Rules Chair C.M. Newton

C.M. Newton
C.M. Newton
Billy Reed
Billy Reed

Jim Durham
News Bureau Director

“College athletics, like society in general, is undergoing a moral crisis. Evidence is mounting that instead of building character in young people, sports now are contributing to the decline of character. The reason is that the athletics world has become rife with hypocrisy, greed, and dishonesty. For evidence, read the reports of the Knight Commission – or your daily sports page.”

So writes celebrated sports columnist and recently-named Georgetown College Executive Scholar-in-Residence Billy Reed in an invitation for concerned fans and citizens everywhere to attend a unique series of conversational events or “fireside chats” with distinguished figures – mostly from the world of sports – on the Georgetown campus in 2010-11.

“Conversations with Billy Reed” will kick off at 7:30 p.m., September 16 in the College’s John L. Hill Chapel with C.M. Newton, a former chair of the NCAA Rules Committee who should have much to say on the topic of “character in sports.” A former basketball coach at Transylvania, Alabama and Vanderbilt, Newton was hired notably by the University of Kentucky in ’89 to help his alma mater deal with the ultra-sensitive NCAA basketball probation – which soon led to his hiring of coach Rick Pitino.

Reed continues to add to his series lineup, but the following events are scheduled:

  • October 20 – Junior Bridgeman, a former University of Louisville All-American and NBA All-Star with the Milwaukee Bucks
  • February 4 – Jim Host, former chairman and CEO of Host Communications (now IMG) and current chairman of the Louisville Arena Authority, Inc.
  • March 3 – Tom Hammond, veteran NBC sportscaster with notable assignments with the Olympics (track & field, figure skating), Notre Dame football and thoroughbred racing.

As a student at Transylvania, Reed covered C.M. Newton’s teams for the Lexington Leader, took a basketball class from him, and served for awhile as his student sports information director. He sees Newton as the perfect choice to address the important issues that face intercollegiate athletics today.

“C.M. taught me that winning isn’t important unless it’s done the right way. Throughout his career as a coach and administrator, he has remained true to his values. More than anyone, he deserves credit for integrating SEC basketball. He also has been a force in the NCAA and USA Basketball. He has been a friend and mentor to me throughout my career. I tried to apply the values I learned from him to the journalism business.”

With this series, Reed – with the input of Georgetown College President Bill Crouch and Athletics Director Eric Ward – aims to provide distinguished speakers a forum to discuss their careers and views, with special emphasis on character, integrity, and ethics.

“It’s in keeping with the ‘Champions of Character’ program in the GC Athletics department,” Reed said. “By no means do we want to be perceived as ‘holier than thou’ or self-righteous,” he continued. “We simply believe that it’s time for a return to the core values that we’ve always used to justify intercollegiate athletics as an important part of the college experience.”

Reed is equally excited about bringing in former NBA star Junior Bridgeman, who came out of East Chicago Washington High (Indiana) to become an All-American at U of L (1975). “After retiring, he came back to Louisville and became a major community leader, serving as chairman of U of L’s Board of Trustees,” Reed said. “He also used his education and his name recognition to become a successful businessman, owning a chain of Wendy’s restaurants. A great role model, especially for poor kids, both black and white.”

Bridgeman is very familiar with the First Tee Scholars program that President Crouch created six years ago and nearly every year he’s played the annual fund-raising event at Louisville’s famed Valhalla Golf Club. He is also on the PGA of America Board of Directors.

Dave Kindred, a long-time columnist with such publications as the Louisville Courier-Journal, the Washington Post, the Atlanta Constitution and Golf Digest, knows his former colleague’s passion for these issues as well as anyone. “In the near 40 years that I’ve known, worked alongside, and shared long, late- night conversations with Billy, he has never failed – not once – to lead me to the true heart of the issue at hand,” wrote Kindred, currently a director with the National Sports Journalism Center at Indiana University, in an e-mail. “It won’t be long before Georgetown College and its patrons are enriched by his presence as I continue to be.”

These “Conversations with Billy Reed” will be recorded and later aired on KET’s Kentucky Network. The series is being produced in association with The Blanton Collier Sportsmanship Group, Georgetown College and the College’s Marshall Center for Christian Ministry.



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