Award-winning Sports Columnist to Launch “Rhoden Fellows” – A National Internship Project to Identify and Train Future Sports Journalists from HBCUs
Award-winning sports columnist William C. “Bill” Rhoden, formerly of The New York Times, has joined The Undefeated as a columnist and editor-at-large for the ESPN multiplatform content initiative. He will establish the Rhoden Fellows, a sports journalism internship program that will identify and train aspiring African American journalists from Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). Rhoden will also pen columns on key topics around sports, race and culture.
Rhoden is considered one of the most respected journalists of his generation. His sports journalism career spans nearly four decades, and his work has garnered critical acclaim. Beyond writing, his voice as a social commentator has been among the most sought-after in the genre of sports and race, including on ESPN where he has contributed to The Sports Reporters Sunday morning discussion program since 1989.
“Bill’s pioneering career has been phenomenal, his body of work unmatched. We are grateful to have him leading a new initiative at The Undefeated to develop the next generation of Bill Rhodens,” said Kevin Merida, ESPN Senior Vice President and Editor-in-Chief of The Undefeated. “Thankfully for us, and for our readers, Bill will continue to write – his strong, brilliant voice is still needed.”
Last July, The New York Times published Rhoden’s last “Sports of the Times” column, ending his 26-year run as a recurring columnist at one of the nation’s leading newspaper sports departments – and as one of the nation’s top African American sports columnists.
“John Skipper and Kevin Merida have helped turn a dream into reality,” Rhoden said. “Through The Undefeated, ESPN has provided me with an unprecedented opportunity to identify, mentor and sponsor talented young journalists from Historically Black Colleges and Universities.”
Rhoden added: “I look forward to passing the torch I received from Sam Lacy and many others to a vibrant, new generation.”
Rhoden joined The New York Times in 1982 as an editor in the Week-In-Review section. A year later he joined the sports department where he focused on issues in high school and college sports. In 1990, Rhoden wrote a three-part, front page series called “The Student Athlete on Campus,” which explored the complex relationship between college sports and its athletes.
Rhoden earned a degree in English from Morgan State University in Baltimore, Md., where he played football, wrote for the student newspaper and worked in the sports information department. Upon graduation, he began his journalism career at The Baltimore Afro-American newspaper covering city hall, board of education in Baltimore, and wrote about sports under the tutelage of his mentor Sam Lacy, a pioneer African American sports journalist and member of the writers’ and broadcasters’ wing of the Baseball Hall of Fame. Rhoden spent four years as an associate editor at Ebony magazine before joining The Baltimore Sun in 1978 as a feature writer and jazz music critic.
An accomplished author, Rhoden has written two critically acclaimed books: Forty Million Dollar Slaves: The Rise, Fall and Redemption of the Black Athlete and Third and A Mile: The Trials and Triumphs of The Black Quarterback. His work has been anthologized in The Best American Sports Writing series.
Rhoden won a Peabody Award for Broadcasting in 1996 as a writer for the HBO documentary Journey of the African American Athlete. He was also a writer on the 2008 documentary Breaking The Huddle: The Integration of College Football, which won an Emmy in 2009.