“On a personal level, I grew up with the game,” said Moran, a 1975 Fordham graduate. “Digger Phelps was the coach and the [Fordham] Rams were 26-3. They really took over the city for the last few weeks of February and into March . That team really had a lot to do with inspiring my involvement.”
Moran’s passion for college basketball sparked a career in sports journalism that has spanned more than 40 years. This year, the College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA) will recognize him with its 2020 Keith Jackson Eternal Flame Award.
Named after longtime ABC broadcaster Keith Jackson, who was known as the “voice of college football,” the award recognizes individuals for their lasting contributions to intercollegiate athletics. Past recipients include Pat Summitt, the legendary University of Tennessee women’s basketball coach who died in 2016, and ESPN broadcaster and former college head coach Dick Vitale.
In selecting Moran, CoSIDA praised him as an “award-winning reporter and columnist” who for more than a decade has “turned his attention to directing sports journalism programs” and “enhancing relationships between media, coaches and athletic communications professionals.” He has also served as a frequent panelist at CoSIDA conventions and as part of the group’s continuing education programs, presenting on topics such as media relations and crisis communications.
Moran got his start in sports journalism as an undergraduate at Fordham. He wrote for The Fordham Ram, and at WFUV, the University’s radio station, he started One on One, now the longest-running sports call-in show in New York. He went on to write for The New York Times, USA Today, and other newspapers for three decades before joining Penn State University in 2006 as its inaugural Knight Chair in Sports Journalism and Society. Since January 2013, he has been the director of the Sports Capital Journalism Program at Indiana University–Purdue University Indianapolis. He also serves as the Executive Director of the United States Basketball Writers Association.
In both of those roles, Moran said he tries to address changes in the industry from “both sides of the fence”—the journalists on one side and sports teams’ communication staff on the other. He said that his goal as an educator is to help students become “standout journalists” in an era when many writers spend too much time “behind the screens,” and not enough developing personal relationships.
“If you want to stand out among your peers, as far as your relationship with the people you cover—you go the extra mile to show your curiosity and go places you don’t need to go, show up for a practice where there’s no scheduled availability, show that you’re serious about [understanding]how things work [in an organization, and]… ask informed questions in a smart way,” he said. “That’s how you build up credibility and trust—that’s going to increase your chances of doing this.”
This isn’t the first time Moran has earned national recognition for his work. In 2007, he received a Curt Gowdy Media Award from the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame for his lifetime coverage of basketball.
Still, Moran said this latest recognition from CoSIDA left him speechless.
“I’m still speechless—it’s not the kind of thing that you ever expect. I got a phone call about two weeks ago and I was just dumbfounded,” he said. “I just want to keep doing what I’ve been doing, especially when there are opportunities to be involved at future CoSIDA [events]or even in the planning process—if I can help brainstorm ideas for sessions to reflect how the industry is changing—anything that I can contribute along those lines ultimately, that’s the best way to say thank you.”