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UFCJC to Induct Three Legendary Sports Journalists into Sports@CJC Ring of Honor

The University of Florida College of Journalism and Communications (UFCJC) today announced this year’s inductees into its Sports@CJC Ring of Honor, which recognizes UF alumni, faculty and staff who have made outstanding contributions to sports journalism, media and communications and positively represent the values and impact of the College and its sports program.

This year’s inductees include Walter L. “Red” Barber, B.S. Journalism 1934 and UFCJC Hall of Fame 1970, Joan Ryan, B.S. Journalism 1981 and UFCJC Hall of Fame 2000, and George Solomon, B.S. Journalism 1963 and UFCJC Hall of Fame 1991.

The three inductees will be honored during the College’s Sports@CJC Sports Collective Symposium on March 28, 2024, an event featuring UFCJC alumni designed to inspire and inform students, emerging professionals and the Gator community about the future of the sports media and communication industry.

Red Barber, who passed away in 1992, was a legendary sports announcer who started his broadcasting career at UF’s WRUF-AM in 1930, where he was director and chief announcer and covered UF Gator football games. He went on to become a radio and television announcer for the Cincinnati Reds (1934–39), Brooklyn Dodgers (1939–53) and New York Yankees (1954–66). Barber also called college and professional football games in his primary market of New York City.

Walter L. "Red" Barber
Red Barber

He was also an author and wrote six books, including “The Rhubarb Patch: The Story of the Modern Brooklyn Dodgers” (1954), “When All Hell Broke Loose in Baseball” (1982) about the integration of Major League Baseball, and his autobiography, “Rhubarb in the Catbird Seat” (1968).

Among his numerous honors were being inducted into the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association Hall of Fame, American Sportswriter Association Hall of Fame and the Florida Sports Hall of Fame. He received a George Polk Award in 1985 and a Peabody Award in 1990 for his broadcasts on NPR, and in 1995 he was posthumously inducted into the National Radio Hall of Fame.

Joan Ryan is an award-winning journalist, author and sports media consultant. She was a pioneer in sports journalism as one of the first female sports columnists in the country and covered every major sporting event from the Super Bowl and the World Series to the Olympics and championship fights.

Joan Ryan

After graduating from UF, she began work as a copy editor at The Orlando Sentinel and became the first woman in the paper’s sports department. In 1985, she moved to San Francisco as a full-time sports columnist for the San Francisco Examiner and then San Francisco Chronicle in 1994.  She has been the senior media advisor to the San Francisco Giants since 2008.

Her sports columns and features earned 13 Associated Press Sports Editors Awards, the National Headliner Award, the Women’s Sports Foundation’s Journalism Award, and the prestigious Edgar A. Poe Award from the White House Correspondents’ Association.

She has written five books, including “Little Girls in Pretty Boxes: The Making and Breaking of Elite Gymnasts and Figure Skaters’’ (1995), which was a ground-breaking expose named one of the “Top 100 Sports Books of All Time’’ by Sports Illustrated and one of the “Top 50 Sports Books of All Time’’ by The Guardian. She has been featured on Oprah, 60 Minutes, Nightline, the Today Show, People, the New Yorker, the New York Times and other media around the country.

George Solomon worked at The Washington Post from 1972 to 2009, serving as sports editor from 1975-2003 and a Sunday sports columnist from 2003-2009.  He was the founding director of the Shirley Povich Center for Sports Journalism at the University of Maryland from 2011 to 2020 and a member of Maryland’s Philip Merrill College of Journalism faculty from 2003 to 2020. He retired in 2020.

George Solomon
George Solomon

Solomon, who is currently working on a book about his career and the future of sports journalism, also served as an ombudsman at ESPN, where he criticized the network for not making clear the difference between commentary and reporting on their shows, and for generally having too much sensationalism and not enough journalism in their stories.

In 2003, Solomon was honored by the Associated Press Sports Editors organization with the Red Smith Award, which recognizes “major contributions to sports journalism.”

Solomon’s son, Aaron, a 1991 graduate from the College, has been the producer of ESPN’s “Around the Horn” for the past 21 years. A grandson, Bennett, is a senior at the College and sports editor of the Independent Florida Alligator student news organization.


Posted: February 6, 2024
Category: Alumni News, College News
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