The Marist College Center for Sports Communication presented longtime television personality Bryant Gumbel with the inaugural Lifetime Excellence in Sports Communication award on Thursday night, and could receive lasting benefits in return.
The award ceremony began loosely around 7:00pm, and many notable people and celebrities were in attendance. Lines were backed up out the front door of the New York Athletic Club, which stands across the street from the south side of Central Park in New York City, as roughly 400 people piled in to take pictures on the red carpet, converse with other notable people, and above all, congratulate Bryant Gumbel on his success.
Gumbel was selected for the inaugural presentation of this award because of his incredible résumé, vast accomplishments, and the fearless nature that he went about his work. “Bryant Gumbel is a true legend,” said Dr. Keith Strudler, the Director of the Marist College Center for Sports Communication.
Several people gave very passionate, thoughtful speeches,including Kelly Ripa, Katie Couric, and Jon Frankel, as well as Marist President Dennis J. Murray and Dr. Keith Strudler. “Only at this kind of event can you really learn about the personality of a person outside of what one will see on their television screen,” said student-intern Avery Decker. “It’s great to hear the personal, inside perspectives of his life, experiences, and characteristics.”
Katie Couric explained how special the night truly was. “So glad to spend the night honoring my friend,” Couric said. It was a “fantastic night honoring my friend, Bryant.” Most of the other speeches all echoed her same feeling that it was an honor to be able to speak at the inaugural ceremony, although some preferred to tease their old friend, Bryant Gumbel and talk about the funny and weird things he did throughout the years.
On top of simply giving a speech, the speakers provided the audience with intricate performances. “Jon Frankel rapped, so it can’t get much better than that,” said student-intern Janie Pierson. “Also, Kelly Ripa was hilarious and even more beautiful in real life.” Video tributes were also played for the audience. “My favorite part was when they showed old videos of Gumbel on the Today Show and talked about his past,” said student-intern John Fornaro. “They really showed what sort of road you need to go down to be successful.”
However, the familiarity of the guest list did not end with the speakers. “It was amazing to see the types of connections that Marist and Dr. Strudler have,” Pierson said. “I was shocked at some of the faces I recognized at the dinner and couldn’t believe that I was in the same room as them.” Among the guests invited were Jeremy Schaap, Bob Costas, and Al Roker, to name just a few. Needless to say, this event had a lot of big names, although it was also very exclusive, as certain people were denied entrance for not having a ticket.
This event was very important for Marist College and the Marist College Center for Sports Communication. “This is the biggest event in the history of Marist College and all of our lives,” Dr. Keith Strudler said. “I have never worked so hard for one event, and it looks like it has paid off.”
Tables cost $15,000 to sit at on Thursday night, so considering that 400 people came to sit at the event, the Marist College Center for Sports Communication gained a great amount of money. “Marist is trying to get an endowment for the Center for Sports Communication,” said student-intern Kiki Terry. “An endowment could affect research for college athletics that could improve Marist sports,” if used in a certain way. The Marist College Center for Sports Communication is now also able to improve upon its equipment, as well as most likely being able to give away academic scholarships for sports communication, two necessities that cannot be stressed enough.
Marist received even greater benefits than simply money, however. “The Marist College Center for Sports Communication was held in such a high regard among so many industry professionals,” Decker said. “Not only professionals, but those that have risen to the top of their fields. That kind of exposure is immeasurable for a small college like Marist and will bode well for the sports communication program as a whole.”
The exposure was not just limited to the people that attended the event, however. The Marist College Center for Sports Communication banner was lined up next to the red carpet, and thus was involved in most of the pictures. The event “gave so much attention to the program at Marist because the banner was hanging everywhere and this was Marist’s award,” Fornaro said. “Videos and pictures were taken in front of the banner, celebrities tweeted using our handle, and Kelly Ripa talked about the event the next morning on her show, Kelly & Michael.” Marist’s exposure was able to extend nationwide because of this and could definitely reap the benefits of this by receiving an abnormal amount of applicants this fall and winter. This was an “awesome opportunity for the center to get our name out there and show people what we’re all about,” Fornaro said.
Eleven student interns were able to attend the event, and the experience was very rewarding for them. “As a communication student, I know how important networking is for my future,” Pierson said. “It definitely makes me feel a little more confident about my future and looking for jobs.”
Marist College and the Marist College Center for Sports Communication has definitely elevated its status since the ceremony. The event went very smoothly, and now Marist will be more recognizable and better equipped than ever.