Award-winning sports journalist William Rhoden to give Cronkite School convocation address

Cronkite convocation speaker William Rhoden

William C. Rhoden will deliver the keynote address at the Cronkite School’s fall 2021 convocation.


William C. Rhoden, an award-winning national sports writer and visiting professional at Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication, will deliver the keynote address at the Cronkite School’s fall 2021 convocation.

The ceremony will take place at 7:30 p.m. Dec. 14 at Arizona Federal Theatre, 400 W. Washington St., Phoenix. More than 260 students are expected to graduate.

“William Rhoden is a strong and familiar voice for truth, justice and accountability not only in sports, but our society as a whole. He is an unquestioned leader in his craft and has put his time, treasure and connections toward providing opportunities and guidance for others coming along in the field. I am excited that he will be our convocation speaker and look forward to his words of encouragement and insight,” said Cronkite School Dean Battinto L. Batts Jr.

Rhoden is one of the most accomplished sports journalists of his generation and is regarded as an expert on the topics of sports and race. He is currently a columnist and editor-at-large at The Undefeated, ESPN’s digital platform that explores the intersection of race, culture and sports.

In collaboration with The Undefeated, ESPN and the Walt Disney Company, he has established the Rhoden Fellows Initiative, which identifies and trains aspiring African American journalists from historically Black colleges and universities.

“I’m honored to have been asked by Dean Batts to deliver the commencement address to the next generation of journalists. I cherish my connection with Cronkite, which has been on the cutting edge of teaching students how to navigate the challenges facing young journalists,” Rhoden said.

At the Cronkite School, Rhoden serves as a visiting professional and teaches “Opinion in the Digital Age,” which introduces students to the art of crafting and forming thoughtful opinion pieces for all existing platforms.

In addition, he also is a visiting senior practitioner for the Global Sport Institute, where he provides feedback on the institute’s strategic direction and helps develop concepts for the Global Sport Matters content hub.

Rhoden rose to prominence at The New York Times, where he published his award-winning “Sports of the Times” column for 26 years and established himself as one of the top sports columnists in the country.

The veteran journalist has received numerous career honors.

The National Sports Media Association announced Rhoden’s election into its Hall of Fame in January 2021. In 2018, the National Association of Black Journalists inducted Rhoden into its Hall of Fame for contributions to journalism and the Black community.

He won a Peabody Award in 1996 as a writer for HBO’s documentary “Journey of the African American Athlete” and earned an Emmy Award for his writing on the documentary “Breaking the Huddle: The Integration of College Football.” Rhoden is an accomplished author who published “Forty Million Dollar Slaves” in 2006 and “Third and a Mile: The Trials and Triumphs of The Black Quarterback” in 2007.

He was also presented with the 2017 Sam Lacy-Wendell Smith Award by the Shirley Povich Center for Sports Journalism at the University of Maryland Philip Merrill College of Journalism for contributions to racial and gender equality in sports.

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