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Last modified: Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Pulitzer Prize winner Bissinger headlines seminar on investigating the business of college athletics

Jan. 20, 2010

INDIANAPOLIS -- Pulitzer Prize winner H.G. "Buzz" Bissinger, author of one of the top-selling and most acclaimed sports books in history, Friday Night Lights, and contributor to Vanity Fair magazine, will headline a free, daylong seminar here on March 10 called "Investigating the Business of College Athletics."

H.G. "Buzz" Bissinger

Photo courtesy of Buzz Bissinger

H.G. "Buzz" Bissinger

The seminar also will include a senior official from the National Collegiate Athletic Association, the top editor of and senior sports editors from USA Today.

The seminar for journalists, which will be on the eve of the Big Ten Basketball Tournament in Indianapolis, is sponsored by the Donald W. Reynolds National Center for Business Journalism at Arizona State University and hosted by the National Sports Journalism Center at Indiana University and Associated Press Sports Editors (APSE).

In addition to Bissinger, the speakers scheduled to participate include Wallace Renfro, vice president and senior adviser to the president of the NCAA; Rob King, vice president and editor in chief of ESPN Digital Media; Jodi Upton, sports database editor for USA Today; and Steve Berkowitz, sports projects editor at USA Today.

"Here's a chance in just one day for journalists to get grounded in how to access and understand financial information from their local colleges' athletic programs, decipher coaches' contracts and develop stories from message boards and social media," said Linda Austin, executive director of the Donald W. Reynolds National Center for Business Journalism. "They will learn from top NCAA officials and sports journalists -- and it's all free!"

The seminar will include sessions providing an overview of money in college sports, explanations about how to analyze revenue and expense information at local colleges, instruction on how to utilize freedom of information laws to obtain information and discussion of how to use social media to assist in reporting.

Bissinger, the author of Vanity Fair's February cover story on Tiger Woods, will deliver a luncheon keynote speech at the seminar on narrative writing.

At 7 p.m., Bissinger will discuss the state of sports media in America with Tim Franklin, director of the National Sports Journalism Center. That event, sponsored by the IU National Sports Journalism Center, is free and open to the public and will take place in Campus Center Room 450A on the campus of Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI).

Bissinger will discuss media coverage of the Tiger Woods controversy, recent revelations about steroid use in Major League Baseball and his 2009 New York Times best-seller, Shooting Stars, with NBA star LeBron James.

Franklin said the seminar represents an opportunity for journalists, journalism students and academics to get a free, in-depth understanding of money and college sports.

"Journalists will leave this day with the tools they need to report and write financial stories about their own college athletic programs, many of which are big, big business. And at the same time, they will hear from a Pulitzer Prize-winning author and a top national sports Web editor about how to engage readers in stories on this topic," Franklin said.

"With public and private universities across the country cutting both athletic and academic programs because of the economic downturn, this one-day seminar is incredibly timely and will help journalists cover these profound issues with greater understanding," he said.

This seminar will give sports journalists the knowledge they need to stay on top of trends in college sports, said Garry D. Howard, president of the APSE and assistant managing editor/sports at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

"APSE will always stay in the forefront of enhancing and improving the skills of sports journalists," Howard said. "With such notables as Pulitzer winner Buzz Bissinger and Rob King, the undisputed leader of, leading the way, this one-day seminar is a 'must-be-there type of event' for journalists who are intent on keeping themselves indispensable in this field."

The seminar from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. will be in Room 305 of the Campus Center at 420 University Blvd. on the IUPUI campus. To register for the seminar, go to or visit Seating is limited. A special hotel rate of $109 is available through Feb. 15 at the Courtyard by Marriott Indianapolis at the Capitol. To make a reservation, call 888-816-4091.

It will be live-streamed on, and

About the National Sports Journalism Center: The National Sports Journalism Center, which opened in January 2009, is the nation's most comprehensive institute for the study of sports media. The center includes undergraduate sports journalism courses on the IUPUI and IU Bloomington campuses, internship opportunities for students, a speaker series that includes America's top sports journalists, and a Web site,, with breaking news and information on the sports media industry. The center is the national headquarters of the Associated Press Sports Editors, the nation's largest professional sports journalism organization.

About the Donald W. Reynolds National Center for Business Journalism: Since 2003, more than 8,500 journalists have received free business journalism training through the Reynolds Center's regional workshops or online. The center at Arizona State University's Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication in Phoenix is funded by a grant from the Donald W. Reynolds Foundation in Las Vegas. The center offers daily tips on how to cover business better at and sponsors the annual Barlett & Steele Awards for Investigative Business Journalism.