This story was originally published on UGA Today on March 25, 2021.
Sports media education, already a signature program at the University of Georgia, is expanding with the establishment of the John Huland Carmical Sports Media Institute.
The Carmical Sports Media Institute will give UGA’s undergraduate Sports Media Certificate program a home base and a distinct brand as well as the resources to increase student support and experiential learning opportunities, on-campus programming, community outreach and industry networking.
Housed in the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication, the Carmical Sports Media Institute will operate on foundational journalistic principles while innovating the future of sports storytelling.
The Carmical Sports Media Institute is possible because of a generous gift from the Atlanta-based John Huland Carmical Foundation, which now has committed more than $3 million to sports media education at UGA.
“The University of Georgia is grateful to the John Huland Carmical Foundation for their significant support,” said President Jere W. Morehead. “I look forward to the many ways the Carmical Sports Media Institute will enhance our students’ academic and professional development and sustain our efforts to provide educational opportunities in sports media to young people across Georgia.”
With the resources the Carmical Sports Media Institute will provide, plans are underway for a sports media-specific study abroad program, an annual lecture series and periodic symposia. Sports Media Certificate students will receive financial assistance with travel and housing costs related to internships and other experiential learning opportunities.
In addition, the one-off opportunity that saw Grady College students in sports media and visual journalism covering the 2016 Summer Paralympic Games in partnership with The Associated Press will become a perennial offering. Institute funding also will allow the UGA-Grady High School Sports Broadcast Program to operate in perpetuity. The program, launched in 2019, provides equipment and trains students in underrepresented and/or underserved communities across Georgia to produce live broadcasts of their school’s sports events.
Joe Ripley (ABJ ’14), now a journalist for 11 Alive in Atlanta, interviews Damian Swann in the football locker room during their college days.
The Sports Media Certificate curriculum prepares students to work in sports reporting and writing, broadcasting, social and digital media, communications and media relations. Program alumni are working at some of the nation’s premier sports media outlets and sports organizations, including The Washington Post, ESPN, The Athletic, Atlanta United, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the Miami Dolphins and Turner Sports.
The Sports Media Certificate program, launched in 2014, is unique among Southeastern Conference universities and one of the few programs nationally that offers sports-specific media training for undergraduates. Available to all UGA students regardless of major, the program is in high demand, annually attracting at least twice as many applicants as available spots.
“Jimmy Alston and his fellow Carmical Foundation directors Henry Bowden, Jimmy Fluker and John O. Knox first supported the vision of legendary UGA professor Conrad Fink to offer sports-specific journalism training here in Athens,” said Vicki Michaelis, a longtime sports journalist hired to be the John Huland Carmical Chair in Sports Journalism and Society in 2012. “Now they are making our big-league dreams come true as the Carmical Sports Media Institute will allow us to really ramp up what we can offer our students, the community and the sports media industry.”
John Huland Carmical, a distinguished journalist at The New York Times, graduated from Grady College at UGA in 1917. A native of Rico, Georgia, Carmical always credited the education he received at the University of Georgia for his success in journalism, according to Jimmy Alston, chair of the John Huland Carmical Foundation.
“The creation of the Carmical Sports Media Institute represents another milestone in the program’s short but powerful story,” said Charles N. Davis, dean of Grady College. “The program, founded in a college that has produced countless stars in sports media, uses experiential learning and the many opportunities for sports coverage on an SEC campus to produce best-in-class training for its students. The institute gives this flourishing program a brick-and-mortar home, as well as offering a launchpad for future endeavors. We can’t possibly thank the Carmical Foundation enough for their visionary support, without which the institute would be but a dream.”
Michaelis will be the director of the Carmical Sports Media Institute. Welch Suggs, who worked alongside Michaelis to create the Sports Media Certificate program, will be the associate director. Carlo Finlay will be the assistant director.