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Beyond the Box Score: Covering College Sports

Football coach Pat Fitzgerald, veteran sports journalists to discuss college athletics

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January 10, 2012 | by Wendy Leopold

EVANSTON, Ill. --- Northwestern head football coach Pat Fitzgerald will join veteran sports journalists Stewart Mandel (Sports Illustrated) and Pete Thamel (New York Times) in a freewheeling discussion about college sports and student-athletes and the media’s coverage of them on Wednesday, Feb. 22, at Northwestern University.

ESPN reporter Rachel Nichols will moderate the discussion that is part of Medill’s Gertrude and G.D. Crain Jr. Lecture Series. The free and public event, “Beyond the Box Score: Covering College Sports in 2012 and Beyond,” will take place at 4 p.m. in the McCormick Tribune Center Forum, 1870 Campus Drive, on the Evanston campus. It is co-sponsored by Northwestern’s Athletics Department.

The panel discussion also will be streamed live on the Medill and the Athletics department websites, and can be followed on Twitter using the hashtag #MedillSports. 

Panelist descriptions follow: 

Medill alumnus Stewart Mandel is a senior writer for Sports Illustrated’s website, SI.com, where he has worked since 1999 covering the national college football beat and college basketball. Mandel’s first book, “Bowls, Pools and Tattered Souls: Tackling the Chaos and Controversy That Reign Over College Football,” was published in 2007. The next year he took first place (enterprise category) and second place (game story) in the Football Writers Association of America’s annual writing contest.

Pete Thamel is in his ninth year as the college sports reporter for The New York Times. He covers the national college football and basketball beats, and has reported stories everywhere from Maui to Istanbul to Beijing. In 2006, the Times nominated Thamel for a Pulitzer Prize for national reporting for his work uncovering diploma mills that were giving fast and easy grades to athletically talented high school prospects.

Pat Fitzgerald recently completed his sixth season as head coach of Northwestern University’s football team. “Fitz” has guided the Wildcats to four consecutive postseason berths and five straight years of bowl-eligibility, both school bests. As a student-athlete, he led Northwestern to back-to-back Big Ten titles in the mid-1990s and was a two-time winner of both the Bronko Nagurski and Chuck Bednarik awards as the nation’s best defensive player. He was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2008. In addition to his January 2009 appointment to the Illinois Reform Commission aimed at rooting out political corruption, Fitzgerald was named to the American Football Coaches Association (AFCA) Ethics Committee in the fall of 2009. He is also dedicated to helping improve youth football safety as a member of USA Football's Tackle Advisory Committee.



Moderator and Medill alumna Rachel Nichols joined ESPN in February 2004 as a New York City-based reporter, covering breaking news stories and major events, as well as providing investigative pieces and human-interest features. In addition to her role on “SportsCenter,” she provides weekly NFL features and reports for ESPN’s studio programs and regular coverage of the NBA. She is also a correspondent for “E:60,” ESPN’s first multi-themed prime-time newsmagazine, a sideline reporter for “Monday Night Football” and an occasional contributor on “The Sports Reporters.”


The Gertrude and G.D. Crain Jr. Lecture Series regularly brings journalists, newsmakers and others discussing current events and the news business to the Evanston campus. For more information on this lecture, call (847) 467-4130, email m-zarefsky@northwestern.edu, or visit www.medill.northwestern.edu.