The University of Alabama

Former ESPN president to speak as guest of UA sports communication program

George Bodenheimer (Courtesy ESPN)

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — George Bodenheimer, the longest-tenured president in the history of ESPN, will hold a question and answer session in the Ferguson Theatre at 4 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 11, as a guest of The University of Alabama Program in Sports Communication.

The event is free and open to the public. APSC Director Dr. Andrew Billings, Ronald Reagan Endowed Chair of Broadcasting in the College of Communication and Information Sciences’ telecommunication and film department, said Bodenheimer’s talk not only will cover sports communication but also holds overall cultural importance.

“If you see ESPN as being just about sports, you’re missing a broader conversation about American culture,” Billings said. “ESPN is about sports, it’s about media, and it’s about the way the majority of Americans live their lives.

“Most people realize that ESPN is the major driver of all sports media. What they may not realize is that it is a major driver of all media consumption in general, from ad rates to subscription rates paid by cable and satellite subscribers.”

Bodenheimer served as ESPN president for 13 years, from 1998-2012, and assumed the role of executive chairman for ESPN, Inc., in January 2012 (after more than 30 years total with the network). He is widely regarded as a foremost expert on sport communication and the impact of sport on society as a whole.

The APSC, housed in the College of Communication and Information Sciences, has been in the works for more than a year and recently launched its website at http://sportscom.ua.edu. In its early stages it will serve as an umbrella for sport communication-related research taking place on The University of Alabama campus, with a number of faculty fellows providing mentorship for students participating in such research. The APSC plans to hold its first research symposium on campus in spring 2013.

The University of Alabama, a student-centered research university, is experiencing significant growth in both enrollment and academic quality. This growth, which is positively impacting the campus and the state's economy, is in keeping with UA's vision to be the university of choice for the best and brightest students. UA, the state's flagship university, is an academic community united in its commitment to enhancing the quality of life for all Alabamians.