BGSU Will Always Be Home to Jay Crawford
By Bob Cunningham
To Jay Crawford ’87, Bowling Green State University is more than just his alma mater. BGSU transformed him and gave him a foundation that would help build a 30-year career in sports journalism on some of the medium’s biggest platforms.
“BGSU is home. This is where I called home for four outstanding years,” Crawford said. “Bowling Green is very special for me because this is where I met my wife, Tracy. This is where I went from being a boy to a man. This is where I learned the importance of focus, responsibility and hard work. A lot of the lessons I’ve carried through my life, I learned here.”
Crawford, who earned a Bachelor of Arts in radio, television and film from BGSU, is a well-known sportscaster recognizable from his time anchoring ESPN’s “SportsCenter” and other high-profile shows to calling the Little League World Series. He returned to the University to be an executive in residence for fall 2017 and spring 2018. In that role, he said he will share his “journey” with students and faculty in the School of Media and Communication, in the Department of Sport Management, and with student-athletes.
“Jay has left his mark on the sports and communications industry and we are so pleased that he has agreed to share his wealth of knowledge with our students, faculty, staff, alumni and friends,” said BGSU President Mary Ellen Mazey.
The executive-in-residence program will feature mentorship opportunities, classroom lectures and special event appearances. Dan Kleman ’67, former Tallahassee city manager, and Patrick Love, Ph.D., former vice president for student affairs and higher education consultant, are also executives in residence during this school year.
“I hope I get an opportunity to talk to as many groups and have as many one-on-ones as I possibly can during my time here,” said Crawford, who grew up in Sandusky, Ohio. “I know when I was here, it would have been incredible for me to have available a resource who had a 30-year career in sports journalism. To be able to be that person for students going through the program now is something that I’m very much looking forward to.
“I left here with a million unanswered questions in terms of how do you start a career in sports television? Bowling Green taught me how to do sports television. I had to teach myself how to actually build the career. It was something that I learned through the journey, and I’ve collected a lot of knowledge over my 30-year career. I firmly believe that that knowledge that I’ve gained can be a value to the students.”
This will be a whole new adventure for Crawford, who said he has experienced the same butterflies he did as a freshman as he settles into his new roles with the University.
“I am excited about the opportunity because it’s always been a passion of mine to help young people who are interested in starting a career in this profession,” he said. “That I’m able to do it at the same institution where my passion began 34 years ago is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and I’m thrilled.”
One teaching tool he can’t wait to utilize is the Michael & Sara Kuhlin Center, which houses state-of-the-art video and audio production suites and studio control rooms.
“The Kuhlin Center is absolutely second to none that I’ve seen at the university level,” Crawford said. “In a career where technology is at the center of everything that happens in journalism and sports media, having the most up-to-date technology available is critical because this is very similar to the same equipment that they’ll use when they go into the workforce.
“In many cases, schools that are using old technology are actually teaching students skills that they won’t ever be able to use because the practical use of this technology is so different from what was in use even five years ago. BGSU students are learning on the equipment that’s actually being used at the highest level. When I walk through the center and look at the control room, it looks very much like the control room at ESPN.”
Crawford plans to incorporate his vast experience into his teaching style, one that he predicts might be meandering and long-winded — but worth it.
“I’ll probably be all over the map because that’s who I am,” he said. “I might start down one path and a thought will pop in my head and I’ll go down another path. I’ll have to remind the students constantly to stay with me because I don’t know where I’m going, either, but I do think my passion and enthusiasm will come through as I hone that skill. I think if I have a style it will be a little energetic and a little hopscotch-y, but ultimately focused toward one common goal: making them better at whatever they want to pursue, whether that’s sports media or sports marketing.”
Sports and BGSU have always shared a special connection, Crawford said. Students learning to be sports journalist always have opportunities at the University that they might not have at other schools.
“Because of Bowling Green’s hockey tradition, during my time here that was the sport to cover,” he said. “They were national champions my freshman year, and there was so much excitement and buzz. Because we have the sports teams and the enthusiasm and the interest in them, and because we have what in my case was the Bowling Green Sports Radio Organization so active and involved in covering and broadcasting these teams, I think it’s a working laboratory. The fact that we have these kinds of opportunities available for students means that you’re going to find students who excel in that field. And during your time here if you do enough games, you’re going to get good enough at it that you’re going to get a job out of school.”
Besides working at ESPN, Crawford has served as the sports director for WFTS-TV in Tampa, Florida. He also was the sports director for WBNS-TV in Columbus, Ohio, and served as a weekend sports anchor for WTIC-TV in Hartford, Connecticut. He began his sports television career in 1987 at WYMT-TV in Hazard, Kentucky.
His professional achievements include winning four regional Emmy Awards, the Best Sportscaster Kentucky AP Award and three SPJ Best Sports Program awards. Crawford has been a Children’s Miracle Network host and has contributed time to Special Olympics.
His career has come full circle, and he hopes to be a springboard for launching students’ careers at BGSU.
“I just love the community, I love the University, I love the faculty and the students,” he said. “They’re where I was 30 years ago. I sat in the same lecture halls that they’re sitting in today and studied the same curriculum. If nothing else, my message is I got there from here, so you can, too. I hope I can be of value to the students in sharing my story and showing them that their dreams are attainable.”