March 3, 2011 Volume CXXIX Issue 6

“Conversations with Champions”
welcomed Tom Hammond

Mr. Hammond was truly a wonderful guest and shows what true character is in athletics.

For a man who’s been one of NBC Sports top on-air personalities for nearly three decades to say “television is largely to blame for the decline in character in collegiate athletics today” is heavy stuff.

But, Lexington’s Tom Hammond, was just that blunt last night at Billy Reed’s “Conversations with Champions” fireside chat in Georgetown College’s John L. Hill Chapel. Hammond, who covered Southeastern Conference basketball games for nearly 30 years, is the fifth sports celebrity in this fireside chat series on character, ethics and integrity in college athletics that will be taped for future showing on Kentucky Educational Television. Reed, the host, is Georgetown’s second Executive Scholar-in-Residence.

If you don’t know the Tom Hammond name right away that’s a testament to his skill and preference of not overshadowing the event he covers. But, you will know his face from many Olympics as NBC’s host for Track & Field, Figure Skating and Ice Dancing, as well as horse racing going back to the inaugural Breeder’s Cup in 1984. This spring he will again host all three Triple Crown races starting with the Kentucky Derby in May.

“College sports has become such big business I’m just not sure where it will stop,” lamented Hammond, who still does play-by-play for Notre Dame football on NBC. “The (Auburn quarterback) Cam Newton affair – where a parent shops his athlete-son around – is particularly disturbing.”

Hammond, who was sports director at WLEX-18 for 10 years beginning in 1970, said, “I’m not sure it’s any worse than before…I think sports journalists covered things up in the old days. We just know more about it now with new media and social media.” One step in the right direction, Hammond said, would be for the NCAA to put an end to “the one-and-done rule” in college basketball. “I’m for the same as college baseball – once you sign to play, you have to wait three years before going pro.”

Another troubling trend to Hammond is the increasing vicious actions and words of fans. “Fans are losing sight that it’s just a game, that sports should be an enjoyable extension of the college experience,” he said. “You can’t read the posts on message boards… they’re so mean and ugly.”

Hammond’s sense of Georgetown College athletics is that games are just that – games. Among his many messages for our student-athletes, a couple were: “Enjoy the experience, the camaraderie and the teamwork because it will be the best time of your life. And, leave with no regrets. Don’t say 20 years from now: ‘I should have worked harder.’”

A Lexington resident still, Hammond also covers Gymnastics for NBC and did NFL play-by-play for years before the network won the Sunday Night Game of the Week in ’06. In January, he called the Wild Card game between the Seattle Seahawks and New Orleans Saints.

Hammond has been awarded horse race broadcasting’s top honor, the Eclipse Award (Media category), in 1984 and 1996. He was awarded an Emmy Award for coverage of the 1992 Breeder’s Cup. He also won Emmys for sports broadcasting in 1988 (men’s and women’s basketball), 1992 (Olympics coverage of Track and Field and Diving), and 1996 (Olympics Track and Field).

He was the first recipient of the annual Outstanding Kentuckian Award given by the A.B. Chandler Foundation, is a charter member of the Lafayette High School Hall of Fame, and has been inducted into the Kentucky Journalism Hall of Fame at the University of Kentucky. He was inducted into the Hall of Distinguished Alumni by UK in 2000.

Press Release

GC men and women head to
MSC Tournament Friday

Sports Editor

Maurice Pearson has played well down the stretch for the Tigers.

The GC men’s basketball team wrapped up the MSC regular season title last weekend with a win over West Virginia Tech, 90-60. GC ended the first half on a 14-0 run when they were down 29-24, which gave them big momentum heading into the second half.

GC shot 58 percent in the second half and outrebounded the Bears 50-35 for the game. GC was great on the defensive end and held the Bears to 34 percent in the second half and didn’t give them any open looks.

Vic Moses and Tyrone Shelley both finished with 19 points and Maurice Pearson put in 17 as well. This was a big game for GC as they honored their seniors prior to the game: Eddie Gray, Matt Walls, Dillon Boggs, Rodney Haddix and Vincent Crutcher were all honored for their contributions to the team and for their years of service. They have all made a profound impact on this team and still have some time left as they head to Frankfort on Friday to start defending their MSC title.

GC will play UVA-Wise on Friday night at 8 p.m. at the Civic Center in Frankfort. If you can make it over to Frankfort on Friday, do so and cheer on the Tigers as they march through the MSC Tournament and head towards the National Tournament.

It seemed like a few short weeks ago that the GC women’s basketball team was looking at the ninth seed in the MSC Tournament this weekend. However, after some big road wins and a strong push towards the finish, winning five of their seven games in February, the ladies are looking at the sixth seed in the tournament.

Before looking at the tournament they had to take care of business on senior day on Saturday against West Virginia Tech. Kourtney Tyra led the offensive attack for the Tigers with 16 points and eight rebounds. Mandi Boykin added 13 and Lizza Jones chipped in 11 in the effort.

Even though they were out-rebounded 44-41, GC was able to shoot a better percentage from the field than the Bears, 40 percent to 31 percent.

This was a special day honoring the seniors and it was important to send them out with a win: Emily Drees, Mandy Boykin, Ashley Prince and Jess Slonim were the seniors being honored, and it was also the final game for head coach Susan Johnson.

She is set to retire at season’s end and will leave GC with a 61 percent winning ratio and 584 wins (pending the MSC tournament results). The ladies will play Lindsey Wilson in the MSC Quarterfinals Thursday night at 8 p.m. at the Civic Center in Frankfort. Go out and support the ladies as they try to send Coach Johnson out with an MSC Title.


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