Connect with us
Jim Cutler Demos

Sports TV News

Stephen A. Smith Giving Back To His Alma Matter

Jason Barrett

Published

on

Stephen A. Smith — yes, that Stephen A. Smith — doesn’t mind talking about what Winston-Salem State means to him.

Smith, the often-polarizing ESPN commentator and a man with 2.5 million followers on Twitter, rarely mentions WSSU on his national show, but he hasn’t forgotten his alma mater.

“Without Big House Gaines and Winston-Salem State, who knows where I’d be?” he said in a telephone interview last week.

Smith attended WSSU on a basketball scholarship in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

“I tried to play for coach Gaines, I just couldn’t after I got hurt,” said Smith, referring to an injury-riddled career that included a cracked kneecap that forced him to miss a semester because of the recovery time. “I can’t say enough about that school and what it did for me and especially the late coach Gaines and all of those professors of mine.”

Smith absorbs daily hits on social media for opinions he voices. But as a former thick-skinned sportswriter, he can take it.

He also has been criticized for not doing enough for his alma mater, but he’s trying to rectify that.

Smith, 48, will be in Winston-Salem on Saturday as the main speaker for a fundraising breakfast at the Embassy Suites.

The program, called “Bond, Score, Win,” is an effort to raise money for men’s athletics scholarships at WSSU, and school officials hope to bring in as much as $40,000.

James Dubose, WSSU’s director of corporate sponsorship and fundraising, was the point man in securing Smith, who is flying in on his own dime and paying his own expenses.

“We’ve been communicating a lot through the last three months, and he’s excited,” Dubose said. “This is a big deal for us, and when it comes to fundraising for scholarships, I have this crazy idea that one day we can do enough where every athlete on our campus has a full scholarship.”

That might seem like a crazy idea for a Division II school, but with WSSU’s tradition and large alumni base, it might not be that crazy. Having Smith involved is a good start.

“When I heard what the premise was about and how it raises money for athletes, it was a no-brainer to help them out,” said Smith, a 1991 graduate of WSSU and a member of the Big House Gaines Hall of Fame for service to the university.

Smith will talk about his time at WSSU and about his early years in media. He worked at the Winston-Salem Journal as a part-time sports clerk, answering phones while he was still a student.

One of Smith’s instructors at WSSU was John Gates, also an editorial-page writer for the Journal.

Smith said Gates invited him to lunch one day. Although it wasn’t actually a lunch.

“Instead, (Gates) takes me into the Journal offices, and I meet the sports editor, Terry Oberle, and he gave me a job as a clerk,” Smith said.

Smith said that about two months later Oberle assigned him his first feature story, on the Wake Forest soccer team.

“So I go over to Wake not knowing a thing about soccer, but the coach at the time, Walt Chyzowych, took me aside, and we talked,” Smith said. “I told him I didn’t know anything about soccer other than seeing Pele play. And he was so nice to me and called the team over and told them to give me anything I needed so I could learn the game. I spent three days with them and learned a lot.”

Smith wrote a long feature story and said Oberle gave his approval.

“That meant a lot to me,” he said of that pat on the back. “It was my start in the business as far as I’m concerned.”

After graduation, Smith worked at the Greensboro News & Record’s High Point bureau, lived in Archdale and said he made $15,000 a year.

“I lived in a small place and survived on tuna fish and Kool-Aid,” he said with a laugh.

Smith, who was born and raised in New York City, also found time to send clips of his articles to the New York Daily News, with the hope of moving back up north to be a full-time sportswriter. He eventually landed a job with the Daily News, then later moved to the Philadelphia Inquirer and became an award-winning columnist.

Smith started working for CNN/SI in the mid-1990s and was an NBA insider before getting more into TV work at Fox Sports. He eventually landed at ESPN and hit gold with good friend Skip Bayless and their debate-style show “First Take.” Smith and Bayless have battled each other on air since April 2012.

“He’s just different than me, and that’s what makes the show,” Smith said.

Smith said returning to Winston-Salem, even if it’s for less than 24 hours, will be good.

“Coach Gaines would always preach to us about giving back, and he always said, ‘Nobody owes you anything,’” Smith said. “He used to tell us that every day. If you want to do something in this world, you have to work for it.”

To read the rest of this article visit the Winston-Salem Journal where it was originally published

Sign up for the BSM 8@8

The Top 8 Sports Media Stories of the Day, sent directly to your inbox, every morning at 8am ET.

Invalid email address
We promise not to spam you. You can unsubscribe at any time.

Sports TV News

NTT IndyCar Series Reportedly Nearing Media Rights Deal with FOX Sports

Terms of the agreement remain unknown, but it has been reported that IndyCar was looking to have one partner for its full season within its forthcoming media rights cycle.

Barrett Sports Media

Published

on

NTT IndyCar Series
Courtesy: NTT IndyCar Series

The NTT IndyCar Series, which includes the Indianapolis 500 and other races throughout the year, is reportedly closing in on signing a media rights deal with FOX Sports, according to a new report from Adam Stern of Sports Business Journal. The deal is reportedly expected to be announced “within days,” a development that comes after IndyCar expert Tony Donohue reported that FOX Sports offered IndyCar a complete network television package starting with the 2025 season and beyond. Potential occupants for IndyCar Rights are said to have been down to FOX and NBC in recent weeks, the latter of which is in the final year of its three-season contract with the open-wheel car racing league.

Terms of the agreement remain unknown, but it has been reported that IndyCar was looking to have one partner for its full season within its forthcoming media rights cycle. If this ends up being the case, it would presumably end the property’s relationship with NBC following the conclusion of the racing season in September. Penske Entertainment owns the NTT IndyCar Series, which attains a reported $20 million per year in media rights fees from NBC Sports.

News of the reported agreement between IndyCar and FOX Sports comes after the Indianapolis 500 averaged 5.34 million viewers on NBC and Peacock despite a four-hour weather delay. The broadcast marked the largest audience for the Indy 500 in the last three years and was also up 8% year-over-year from the 2023 iteration of the race.

INDYCAR removed the local blackout of the race in Indianapolis, Ind. and secured an 18.15 household rating and 54 share in the locale. The first six races of the 2024 IndyCar season averaged a total audience delivery of 1.95 million viewers, five of which were televised on NBC while the other one was on USA Network.

NASCAR announced new seven-year media rights deals with FOX Sports, NBC Sports, Amazon’s Prime Video and Warner Bros. Discovery beginning in 2025, collectively worth a reported total of $7.7 billion. FOX Sports will no longer air the NASCAR Coca-Cola 600 on Memorial Day weekend because of how the new NASCAR media rights deal is structured, with the race moving to Prime Video.

Media rights for Formula 1 are currently held by ESPN and expire following the 2025 racing season, and there is reported interest from Apple to bid $2 billion per year for exclusive global rights to the property. FOX Sports previously broadcast Formula 1 races through its SPEED Network for 17 years through the conclusion of the 2012 season.

Sign up for the BSM 8@8

The Top 8 Sports Media Stories of the Day, sent directly to your inbox, every morning at 8am ET.

Invalid email address
We promise not to spam you. You can unsubscribe at any time.
Continue Reading

Sports TV News

NBC, TNT Sports to Join FOX Sports as Big East Basketball Partners According to Report

For Warner Bros. Discovery/TNT Sports, this will be the third sports media rights package it will have secured since reports started to leak out it will most likely have a reduced NBA package or no package at all.

Barrett Sports Media

Published

on

As jockeying continues for any available live sports programming, NBC and TNT Sports are reportedly on the verge of adding coverage of men’s and women’s basketball from the Big East. A report from Andrew Marchand of The Athletic says the two networks are expected to join current Big East partner FOX Sports in airing games starting with the 2025-26 season.

The report says while no agreement has been finalized, it appears FOX Sports will remain the top partner and is expected to continue airing the Big East Tournament, although Marchand says NBC and Peacock could end up with some tournament games. It also notes NBC plans to air most of its Big East games on Peacock.

What is not known yet is how CBS, another current Big East partner, may factor into the deal. According to Jon Lewis of Sports Media Watch, the few games CBS has carried are sublicensed from FOX Sports.

For Warner Bros. Discovery/TNT Sports, this will be the third sports media rights package it will have secured since reports started to leak out it will most likely have a reduced NBA package or no package at all. Earlier this week, the company announced a 10-year deal for the US rights to the French Open tennis tournament. That followed the announcement in May they had reached a 5-year deal to sublicense College Football Playoff games from ESPN. TNT Sports also carries NASCAR and has a partnership with CBS for NCAA Tournament games.

Sign up for the BSM 8@8

The Top 8 Sports Media Stories of the Day, sent directly to your inbox, every morning at 8am ET.

Invalid email address
We promise not to spam you. You can unsubscribe at any time.
Continue Reading

Sports TV News

Jen Lada to Appear on Around the Horn

Lada will become the 58th panelist all-time on the show.

Barrett Sports Media

Published

on

Graphic for Jen Lada appearing on Around the Horn
Graphic Courtesy: ESPN

Jen Lada, ESPN host and reporter and also part of the morning show team at ESPN Milwaukee, will make her debut later today on Around the Horn. Lada will become the 58th panelist all-time on the show.

In her time with ESPN, Lada has been seen on College GameDay, College Football Live, SportsCenter, First Take, Outside the Lines, E:60 and more. Lada started with ESPN in 2015 and she joined College GameDay as a features reporter and College Football Live as a host in 2016.

Prior to ESPN, Lada was an anchor and reporter for two and a half years in the Chicago area for Comcast SportsNet.

Around the Horn has been on the air since November, 2002. Woody Paige is the all-time leader in guest appearances on the show, which is nearing 3,000 times. Jackie MacMullan has the record for most appearances by a female panelist, she has appeared on 890 episodes.

Around the Horn is hosted by Tony Reali and airs weekdays at 5 p.m. ET on ESPN and on the ESPN App.

Sign up for the BSM 8@8

The Top 8 Sports Media Stories of the Day, sent directly to your inbox, every morning at 8am ET.

Invalid email address
We promise not to spam you. You can unsubscribe at any time.
Continue Reading
Advertisement

Advertisement

Upcoming Events

Barrett Media Writers

Copyright © 2024 Barrett Media.