There’s a move afoot at Georgetown College to be an institution people think about when the subject of “character in sports” comes up. Athletics Director Eric Ward heads up the College’s already exemplary “Champions of Character” program, one of the NAIA’s shining lights. In August, President Bill Crouch brought in esteemed sports columnist Billy Reed as an Executive Scholar-in-Residence – primarily to push the idea of character, integrity and ethics in sports with a series of fireside chats entitled “Conversations with Champions at Georgetown College.”
These “conversations” are beginning to catch in the region as well as with Georgetown College students and the campus community. Now, with the February 2 date (note, this is a change from the original schedule!) with Jim Host, the College is hoping Billy Reed’s “Conversations” will become part of a “national discussion” on Restoring Character in Collegiate Sports. This free event in John L. Hill Chapel will begin at 7:30 p.m. on that Wednesday and will be taped for future showing on Kentucky Educational Television.
Jim Host, the former chairman and CEO of Host Communications (now IMG), is one of the most prominent names in sports communications. These days he is often behind the scenes on big ventures such as the recent 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games at the Kentucky Horse Park. He is the current chairman of the Louisville Arena Authority, Inc., which recently christened the new KFC Yum! Center.
Reed, a former sports editor at the Louisville Courier-Journal and contributor for Sports Illustrated, said after his fireside chat in November with former Olympic gold-medalist Mary T. Meagher – swimming’s “Madame Butterfly” – “I couldn’t be more pleased with the way the series is going. I feel like we are going to have an impact at Georgetown College…and hopefully beyond.”
Before the series began in September, Reed wrote: “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.”
Reed then had former University of Kentucky Athletics Director C.M. Newton, who coached basketball at Transylvania University and the University of Alabama before that, be his first “conversation” guest in September. That was followed in October by successful Louisville businessman Junior Bridgeman, who starred for the University of Louisville basketball team and the NBA Milwaukee Bucks; and the November “conversation” with Kentucky native Meagher, who swam to three golds in the ’84 Olympics in Los Angeles.
Jim Host’s February 2 “conversation” will be followed by NBC sports commentator Tom Hammond on Wednesday, March 2 (another schedule change).
Reed – the College’s second Executive Scholar-in-Residence (along with former Kentucky Gov. Martha Layne Collins – has every reason to believe that Georgetown College will be at the forefront of restoring character in the current suspect-world of college sports.