Gene Wojciechowski, a distinguished sports journalist and New York Times bestselling author as well as a proud alumnus of the University of Tennessee, Knoxville’s College of Communication and Information, will join the CCI faculty in August 2024 as a full-time professor of practice in the School of Journalism and Media.
Wojciechowski’s hire, backed by 12 published books, numerous high-profile awards, and more than 40 years of industry experience including notable contributions to ESPN and “College GameDay,” emphasizes CCI’s commitment to preparing students for success in today’s evolving media landscape.
“The appointment of Gene Wojciechowski to the School of Journalism and Media marks a significant milestone for the college as it solidifies its strength in sports communication teaching and scholarship,” said Joseph Mazer, dean of the College of Communication and Information. “Gene brings to the classroom a wealth of industry experience and unwavering dedication to the industry, making him an invaluable addition to our faculty.”
A Renowned Industry Expert
Wojciechowski graduated from UT with a degree in journalism in 1979. His 44-year career includes roles as a prominent beat reporter, national reporter, feature writer, and columnist at publications such as the Los Angeles Times, the Dallas Morning News and the Chicago Tribune, in addition to ESPN. He spent 26 years at ESPN, where he served as a senior writer for ESPN The Magazine. Later he transitioned into a broadcast role, making contributions to programs such as “College GameDay,” “SportsCenter” and “SC Featured” as well as coverage of major sports events including the Special Olympics World Games, Masters, US Open, PGA Championship and British Open. For more than a decade, Wojciechowski served as a feature reporter on “College GameDay,” producing in-depth segments on athletes across the nation.
Wojciechowski’s talent and dedication to the industry have earned him numerous awards, including two Edward R. Murrow Awards for feature reporting and seven Emmys, including an individual Emmy for feature reporting. Murrow Awards are among the most prestigious accolades in the news industry and honor work of the highest quality produced by radio, television, and digital news journalists and organizations.
A three-time New York Times bestselling author, Wojciechowski has been honored with writing awards from esteemed organizations such as the Associated Press Sports Editors, LA Press Club, Pro Football Writers Association, Golf Writers Association of America and Football Writers Association of America. He played an integral role on the ESPN The Magazine staff that secured the National Magazine Award for General Excellence.
From Scholarship Recipient to Educator
Wojciechowski will hold the Edward J. Meeman Distinguished Professorship, which recognizes his outstanding contributions to industry and supports bringing nationally recognized industry leaders to the classroom. As a UT student, Wojciechowski was a recipient of the Edward J. Meeman Scholarship, highlighting his deep connection to the college and bringing his career full circle.
“Without that scholarship, more than likely I was going to have to drop out of school because of financial difficulties. It is jaw-dropping to me that it has come full circle like this,” said Wojciechowski. “I owe the Meeman family continual thanks from the beginning of my career to the start of a new career. It’s amazing that the Meeman name is connected to both ends of that. They’ll never know how much that meant to me.”
Edward J. Meeman established the Knoxville News in 1921. After the Scripps-Howard newspaper acquired its afternoon competitor, The Sentinel, he served as the Knoxville News-Sentinel’s first editor until he moved to Memphis in 1931 to be editor of the Press-Scimitar. In addition to his leadership in Tennessee journalism, Meeman was integral in establishing the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. His legacy continued when, in 1949, he established the Edward J. Meeman Foundation, dedicated to supporting endeavors like Wojciechowski’s professorship.
In addition to his extensive industry experience, Wojciechowski holds a strong passion for student journalism. During his time at UT, he served as editor-in-chief of The Daily Beacon, UT’s student-run newspaper. Committed to fostering the growth and development of aspiring journalists, he will dedicate a portion of his time working directly with students at The Daily Beacon and The Volunteer Channel, UT’s student-run television initiative.
“I’m beyond honored to have been asked to do this, and I’m still making sense of it all. I think it’s fantastic that UT is making a commitment to sports communication and journalism,” Wojciechowski said. “Sports isn’t going anywhere, and it continues to be one of the industries that the valuations always increase. NFL franchises aren’t selling for less money, they’re selling for more. Neyland Stadium is filled to the brim because people want to watch the product. Broadcast rights continue to grow exponentially. Sports is a growth industry, so you need people to chronicle that. I think it’s a smart strategic move by UT to commit resources to covering that industry.”
In his role as a professor of practice, Wojciechowski will teach a variety of topics that align with the School of Journalism and Media curriculum, including sports reporting, feature writing, and video production. His insights and expertise will enrich the classroom experience, providing students with invaluable real-world perspectives and preparing them for successful careers.
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