By Kim Corriher
This June, thousands of seniors will be welcomed into the proud alliance of people who call Ohio University their alma mater by one of their own. Renowned journalist, author and alumnus Peter King will speak at the undergraduate commencement ceremonies on Saturday, June 14, at the Convocation Center.
King, a senior writer for Sports Illustrated and football analyst for NBC Sports, said he was "speechless" when President Roderick J. McDavis extended the invitation to address 2008 graduates.
"It's a terrific honor to be asked to be the commencement speaker at Ohio University," King said. "This is truly one of the high points of my career, a blessing I never expected.
"My first reaction was, 'OK, I'm the warm-up act. Who's the real speaker?' Now I just have to figure out what to say so thousands of people don't sleep through my portion of one of the biggest days of their lives," King said, adding he would try to think of "something other than football to talk about."
King will deliver the commencement address at both of Ohio University's undergraduate ceremonies. Julie Owens, the 2007 Outstanding Graduate Faculty Award winner, will address master's and doctoral degree candidates at the graduate ceremony on Friday, June 13, and Ohio Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner will speak at the College of Osteopathic Medicine ceremony on Saturday, June 7. See related story.
It was the university's Senior Class Council that put King's name forward to McDavis as a potential commencement speaker for the undergraduate ceremonies.
Senior Class President Lynn Walsh, who leads the council, said the group felt it was important that the speaker have Ohio University in common with this year's graduates.
"We wanted someone who had the same history, the same college experience," Walsh said. "We wanted someone who knew what is was like to walk across College Green, about Halloween here, about going to games at the Convo or Peden -- about what it was like to be a student at Ohio."
In King, the university found exactly that.
"The university was a great place for me to grow up," King said. "I still feel the impact of places like The Post, and people like (former journalism faculty) Dru Evarts and Ralph Izard, today. It will be great to be back in Athens and walk across the College Green and reflect on four great years of my life."
A resolution will be put forth next week to the Board of Trustees to recognize King with an honorary doctor of communication degree on the day of commencement.
"Peter King's professional experience and success speak to the value of an Ohio University degree," McDavis said. "I am very pleased he will share his experience on this important day with our graduates as they begin the next phase of their personal and professional lives."
King earned a bachelor of arts degree in 1979 and was a four-year staff member of The Post, serving as the newspaper's managing editor during the 1978-79 school year. From 1980 to 1985, he covered college athletics and professional football for The Cincinnati Enquirer before moving on to Newsday, where he covered the NFL beat for four years.
In 1989, King joined the staff at the nation's most recognizable sports magazine, Sports Illustrated, where he now is a senior writer. He recently finished a five-year stint as managing editor of HBO's "Inside the NFL," which earned three sports Emmys as outstanding sports studio show during his tenure. King appears frequently as a commentator on radio and TV talk shows across the nation, including as an on-air reporter for NBC's "Football Night in America."
King is a two-time winner of the Associated Press Sports Editors award for excellence in sports journalism and has authored five books. He also wrote the forward and much of the copy for Sports Illustrated's recently released book "Brett Favre: The Tribute," which is on The New York Times' bestseller list.