Roger Sauerhaft

Longtime ESPN anchor Dan Patrick will be coming to Oxford to give a talk at 8 p.m. Feb. 11 in Hall Auditorium as part of Miami University’s ongoing Lecture Series for students.

The lecture given by Patrick, a native of Mason who attended the University of Dayton, will talk on the issue of “Athletes as Heroes: Are there no role models anymore?”

After anchoring on SportsCenter for the majority of the past two decades, Patrick left ESPN this past August and is now employed by Sports Illustrated as a senior writer and has also had his own radio show.

“He was somebody who obviously had more depth to him than somebody who’s just reading scores,” said Howard Kleiman of the Lecture Series board in reference to picking Patrick to come speak. “It’s obviously a huge issue these days, whether you’re talking about performance enhancing drugs, or salaries or just the role of sports in society. (Patrick) was somebody who could speak on things more than just ‘who is the new quarterback for the Chicago Bears’ or something like that.” 

Kleiman elaborated further, discussing not only why Patrick was picked to speak at Miami, but also why this given issue deserved to be part of the series.

“Charles Barkley years ago once said, ‘I’m an athlete and I’m not a role model,’ you know, and people can say that but they’re still idolized the same way,” Kleiman said. “When I was a kid, Ernie Banks, who played shortstop for the Cubs, was my boyhood idol and as I got older I found out he was still a good guy, but he wasn’t perfect. It’s harder now in the era of the Internet. It’s harder to be a hero because people’s dirty laundry comes out. A generation ago when somebody fathered a child out of wedlock you’d never hear about it.”

Alex Pierce, a Miami sophomore, said he had a strong interest in sports and was very interested to have a speaker on such a topic with the kind of stature Patrick has. He said he expected a jam-packed auditorium full of his equally interested peers.

“He’s done with TV so it’s kind of like his post-presidency,” Pierce said. “He’s gone through generations of sports advancement so it’ll be good to hear what he says about now versus the past and his take on the future.”

Pierce also has a few questions he would want to ask Patrick if he had the opportunity.

“I’d ask him about the double standard between black and white quarterbacks … the Michael Vick scandal and how Tom Brady has an illegitimate child and people don’t focus on that, I’d ask him why,” Pierce said.

Patrick will also be having a small discussion at 4 p.m. in the Bishop Hall living room and a dinner at 6 p.m. in the Benjamin Harrison room at Shriver Center, along with a reception after the lecture. The discussion and the dinner will have spots reserved for students in disciplines that are relevant to the speaker. A few examples Kleiman cited as areas that apply to Patrick are journalism, mass communications, intercollegiate athletics, honors and scholars student and sociology.

Although Kleiman said the choosing process of which students got to go was very subjective and did not include work such as essays, although the honors and scholars program is asking for 300-500 word essays to be submitted for consideration.

“It’s just a discussion of the committee asking, ‘OK what groups of students would be especially interested in taking part in the opportunity?'” said Richard Little of the provost’s office pertaining to how different areas were selected. He added that sports studies also was an area involved.

The event comes as the latest installment of Lecture Series. Past lectures in the series this year have been given by Dee Dee Myers, Scott McClellan, Daniel Kindlon and Rosalind Wiseman. Because Lecture Series is funded by student fees, admission is free and open to the public although tickets are required as seats are limited. Tickets can be found at the University Box Office in Shriver and then at Hall Auditorium starting an hour before Patrick is scheduled to appear.