Seton Hall to launch Center for Sports Media, thanks to gift from original ESPN anchor

Bob Ley, who had a 40-year career at ESPN, will be heavily involved in efforts at his alma mater

Seton Hall University is launching the Center for Sports Media, thanks to a generous founding donation from Bob Ley, an alumnus who is best known as one of the original ESPN “SportsCenter” anchors.

Ley, who enjoyed a 40-year career at the network, has maintained a strong connection with Seton Hall. He regularly presents workshops and master classes, moderates a sports-media speaker series and mentors student staff at the campus radio station, WSOU-FM 89.5, which is where Ley got his start in 1972, broadcasting men’s basketball games.

The amount of the donation was not disclosed.

Seton Hall officials said the Center for Sports Media will redefine how students are trained in media, communications and sports business. Students will collaborate with the sports community and produce groundbreaking content published through university channels and partnerships with major media outlets. The goal will be for students to build outstanding portfolios, gain robust hands-on experience through internships, and work alongside experts in the field to give them a leg up as they forge careers exploring, engaging and mastering key aspects of this multibillion-dollar sports industry.

University Provost Katia Passerini said the center follows the school’s vision.

“As part of the Seeds of Innovation organizational plan adopted by our board of regents, we are reinvesting in our colleges,” she said. “We’re grateful to Bob for supporting this promising asset, which is housed in the College of Communication and the Arts, and will enhance enrollment, programming and outcomes for our students.

“Bob has already contributed his knowledge, expertise, gift for teaching and contagious enthusiasm to help us grow the sports media program. Now, his financial investment in the center gives us the foundation and the inspiration to achieve a greater vision.”

Ley said he was happy to give back.

“Seton Hall is uniquely positioned to assume a leadership role, as we see this industry continually reshaped in front of our eyes,” he said. “Educating and training the next generation of leaders is vital, so these creators of compelling content work at the highest journalistic standards.

“Seton Hall is committed to the success of the center, and I am deeply honored to make its founding gift.”

In 2017, Seton Hall’s College of Communication and the Arts began offering a sports media minor and, within four years, the minor became the largest in the university. The college provides students with a dedicated website to publish written, visual, audio and video content.

Dozens of sports media leaders, including Adam Schefter and Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN and Bob Costas of NBC, have presented to or engaged with students.

Renee Robinson, the department chair and incoming interim dean of the College of Communication and the Arts, said the center will have impact.

“We are thrilled to expand our programming to offer current and prospective students solid training for a career in sports media, that will teach them both the journalistic standards of fairness and truth, as well as cutting-edge practices of new digital media that are constantly evolving,” she said. “With the launch of the Center for Sports Media, we can now offer students a more robust course of study, additional applied-learning opportunities and the assurance that they will leave Seton Hall with a winning résumé.”