The Penn State University scandal involving sexual abuse. Numerous NCAA violations against the Ohio State University football program. A two-year-long ticket scandal at Kansas University.
It’s a rough time for college athletics.
“I don’t think there’s ever been a year with as much upheaval in college sports,” said CBSSports.com reporter Dennis Dodd on Wednesday during a three-person panel discussion at the Kansas Union.
Dodd was joined by USA Today reporter Steve Wieberg and Kansas City Star sports reporter Blair Kerkhoff at “The Media and Big-Time College Athletics: The View from the Sports Desk.” The event was organized by the Ecumenical Campus Ministries as part of a semester-long forum on higher education and athletics. Max Utsler, KU journalism professor, moderated the discussion.
The three veteran sports reporters tackled a wide variety issues that have affected college athletics the past couple of years — everything from college football realignment to the changing sports reporting landscape.
Kerkhoff said sports reporters’ jobs have changed considerably as anyone with a computer can tweet constant updates; they’re forced to fight off rumors as much as they’re tasked with reporting the news.
“It’s the explosion of the media,” Kerkhoff said, citing the Big 12 realignment discussions where “there was as much misinformation as there was information.”
But much of the discussion centered on recent college sports scandals and how the affected universities reacted.
After the discussion, Wieberg discussed some of the positive aspects of recent high-profile incidents and said there’s even some good that came from the KU ticket scandal.
“It created changes,” he said. “It created safeguards.”
Wieberg, whose recent reporting focus has been the Penn State scandal, said such events in sports also invite opportunities for those in the sports world to confront topics they’re uncomfortable with or know little about.
The Penn State events “created a national conversation, a national dialogue,” he said. “It created a whole new sensitivity to the issue of child abuse.”