Thank you so much to the Senate for this great honor. It means a lot to have the support of the faculty, as I did not always have the support of the administration while I reported on UO. I’d specifically like to thank two SOJC faculty members, Lori Shontzand Brent Walth, who taught me much of what I know about investigative reporting. I’d also like to thank Bill Harbaugh. Although I never took his class, he was always a valuable resource and helped me understand college sports for what it really is.
I’d also like to shout out the Daily Emerald. Applying to the school paper was the best decision I made during my four and a half years at UO. I always liked to write, but the Emerald made me a reporter and gave me the platform on which I launched my career. After a couple years on the sports beat, I grew weary that by covering college athletics without writing consistently about its unsavory aspects, I was complicit in propping up the machine. I decided to hold the athletic department to the same accountability standards as one would any other multimillion-dollar public agency. What I discovered was a trove of stories about financial improprieties, grifting, and misconduct by athletes condoned and swept up under the rug by high-ranking officials. I may not be able to enjoy a Ducks football game, but it’s a sacrifice I would make again for the public good.
The Emerald, like many newspapers in the country, is struggling financially. It is subsidized by the student body, but I fear it may come to be viewed as expendable and cut from the ASUO budget, as has happened at other universities. That would be crippling to the Emerald and transparency at UO. I would encourage everyone to donate to the Emerald. $20 a year, or however much you can give, would make a huge difference. Thanks again for this tremendous honor.