TechSideline.com is pleased to announce that we have pledged to donate $100,000 over the next five years to create an endowed scholarship in the Virginia Tech Department of Communication. The scholarship will support students in the department’s sports media and analytics program, the program that former Hokies play-by-play announcer Bill Roth helped launch.
Under the direction of Robert Denton, head of the Communication department, Roth works as a “professor of practice” in the sports media and analytics program, and he is one of the driving forces behind the program.
Here’s the article that ran on Virginia Tech’s web site Tuesday about the scholarship endowment, and it tells the story about how it came about. It’s written by Paula Byron, Director of Marketing and Communications in the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences.
Tech Sideline boosts Virginia Tech’s sports media program – August 20, 2018
I’ve been friends with Bill Roth for over twenty years, and TSL managing editor Chris Coleman has known him for over a decade as well. Ultimately, the decision to endow a scholarship in his program was driven by that friendship, and by a desire to help the program grow, and to give back to Virginia Tech in general. But there’s more to it than that, so we thought we’d tell the tale in a little more depth.
Why We’re Creating the Tech Sideline Scholarship
As the years have gone by, I’ve spoken with people who have donated sums large and small to Virginia Tech. I got an up-close look at the workings of Bud Foster’s Lunch Pail Defense Foundation, which raises funds and provides scholarships for local students attending Virginia Tech. And I’ve heard the “Ut Prosim” motto over and over, and I wondered how I could serve and give back.
Running TechSideline.com is a double-edged time suck. Because it’s a media business, it’s a 24/7 operation, especially during football and basketball seasons. And because it’s a small business, it requires me to wear all kinds of hats to keep it going. It’s not something I can leave on Friday at 5 PM and return to on Monday at 9 AM. I gave up that idea a long time ago.
Combined with the responsibilities of raising a family, that doesn’t leave me much time at all to live out Ut Prosim, That I May Serve. As I got older and understood better the value of giving back — in whatever form that takes, time or money — it bothered me that I couldn’t.
In the late Fall of 2017, we had Bill Roth on our TSL Podcast to talk about his sports media and analytics program, which he helped start up as part of the Multimedia Journalism major in the Virginia Tech Communication Department. We also spoke to one of Bill’s classes one day, to tell them about what we do and how we got our start.
At that point, one of Bill’s students, Cory Van Dyke, was already writing for us, covering Virginia Tech baseball. Cory is talented, and as we met more of Bill’s students, we learned how much talent is in his program, and we started thinking about forging a partnership with Bill and his program: putting his students to work in a real-life “lab environment” of multimedia sports coverage on TechSideline.com, where their work would be seen by thousands of Hokie fans, and they would learn valuable lessons and grow as students, writers, and journalists.
We also learned about the challenges Bill faces in his fledgling sports media and analytics program. Recruiting the best and brightest students who want to go into sports journalism is a challenge, because there are other, well-established programs out there, competing for those students. It’s no different than Justin Fuente trying to recruit football players against the likes of Alabama and Florida State.
Then it clicked: we could help by endowing a scholarship for Bill Roth’s program, giving him an important tool he could use to recruit students and keep growing and improving his program.
As we pondered this relationship more and more, we realized it would fulfill another purpose as well. We’re always looking for ways to create “community” in this crowded sports-coverage world, and we felt like endowing a scholarship for Bill Roth’s program would give our TechSideline.com subscribers, visitors and fans a connection to Bill and the program. After all, this would not be possible without those who support us, so it’s really a gift from all of TechSideline.com, not just Will Stewart and Chris Coleman.
It’s not called the “Will Stewart Endowed Scholarship for Sports Journalism,” it’s called the “Tech Sideline Endowed Scholarship for Sports Journalism.” It’s important to us, to make that distinction.
Support Virginia Tech, give back, live out Ut Prosim by serving Bill Roth and his students, and create something big that everyone who helped in our success can feel as if they’re a part of. That’s a no-brainer, and that’s why we did it.
You Can Contribute, Too
Sure, we’ll be donating $100,000 over the next five years, but that doesn’t have to be the limit of it. If you’re interested, you too can contribute to the Tech Sideline Endowed Scholarship for Sports Journalism, taking it above and beyond the $100k we have pledged. Or you can start your own initiative, or even endow your own scholarship.
To contribute to the Tech Sideline Endowed Scholarship, or to explore other giving opportunities at Virginia Tech, contact Dan Cleveland, assistant dean of advancement at the Virginia Tech College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences. Dan is our gift officer who showed us the ins and outs and helped make this happen. Dan’s email is firstname.lastname@example.org.
As time goes on, we’ll keep you up to date on our five-year commitment, as we continue to fund it and it comes closer and closer to becoming a fully endowed scholarship. Thanks for all the support and encouragement along the way.