Student earns scholarship in national sports journalism competition

Katie DeFiore
August 13, 2018

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — An essay focused on Guy Gadowsky, head coach of the Penn State men’s hockey team, has earned journalism student Patrick Burns a $3,000 scholarship in a competition conducted by the Jim Murray Memorial Foundation.

Burns, who will begin his senior year in the fall, is the seventh Penn State student since 2007 to be named a Murray Scholar. The scholarship, named for the late Jim Murray, a sportswriter for the Los Angeles Times, is only offered to five student applicants from the 34 colleges and universities that provided submissions this year.

“Jim Murray is somebody who, ever since I knew that I wanted to go into journalism, I’ve looked up to — he’s just such an icon and just the perfect person to look up to,” Burns said. “To earn a scholarship in his name, it really just means everything to me.”

The essay prompt this year was to write about a person, event or team that has shaped the university you attend. Burns said, as someone who had been covering men’s hockey for the Daily Collegian for the past year, writing a profile on Gadowsky was the obvious choice.

“I wrote about how Guy has captivated an entire town — State College has long been a football town, but he has carved out a really cool hockey community,” Burns said. “Just having covered hockey and meeting Guy, he popped out at me as the obvious topic based on the interactions I’ve had with him.”

This summer, Burns has been working at the Collegian preparing to cover men’s hockey and football for his second year. He said he is excited about one of his courses for the fall, in-depth sports reporting, where he will get the chance to cover the Little League World Series and contribute content to the Associated Press.

"I got to know Patrick last year through his work with the Daily Collegian and in class,” said John Affleck, the Knight Chair in Sports Journalism and Society and director of the John Curley Center for Sports Journalism. “He's a versatile and talented writer with a good eye for the right detail to make a story come alive."

In addition to writing for the Collegian, Burns was president of the Penn State Association of Journalists for Diversity, was a recipient of the Knight Diversity Scholarship for Sports Journalism and is currently getting support from a Bunton-Waller Merit Award.

Josh Moyer, who became Penn State’s first Murray Scholar in 2007, currently covers sports for the Centre Daily Times and was formerly the Penn State football beat writer for ESPN. Mark Viera, a 2008 selection, has worked at the Washington Post and the New York Times, and is now an associate at Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP. Shane McGregor, a 2011 winner, was a member of the football team and earned degrees in journalism and English. He is a freelance writer and the head football coach at Central Cambria High School. Emily Kaplan, a 2012 winner, is a national NHL reporter for ESPN and was formerly a staff writer for Sports Illustrated. Garrett Ross, who won the scholarship in 2016, is currently a copy editor at Politico. Last year, Erin McCarthy won the award and is currently a reporter at the Philadelphia Inquirer.

The national panel of judges who reviewed the submissions this year included Chris Ballard (senior writer at Sports Illustrated), Brad Free (reporter for Daily Racing Form and HRTV), Peter Schmuck (columnist for the Baltimore Sun), Roxanna Scott (senior editor at USA Today) and Ramona Shelburne (NBA Insider and senior writer for ESPN).

Along with the other recipients of the scholarship this year, Burns will be flown to Los Angeles on Sept. 20 and will be honored at the Dodgers game Sept. 22.

The foundation was established in 1999 to perpetuate the legacy of Murray, the late sports columnist for the Los Angeles Times from 1961 until his death in 1998. He was awarded a Pulitzer Prize for commentary in 1990. Murray received the J.G. Taylor Spink Award for meritorious contributions to baseball writing in 1987. He was named “America’s Best Sportswriter” by the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association 14 times and went into the association’s Hall of Fame in 1978.

Murray graduated from Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut, in 1943. He worked for several newspapers and was one of the founders of Sports Illustrated.

Penn State was added to the foundation’s scholarship program in 2006. The Curley Center — established in 2003 as the first academic endeavor of its kind in U.S. higher education — explores issues and trends in sports journalism through instruction, outreach, programming and research. The center was named in 2006 for John Curley, the retired president, CEO and chairman of the Gannett Co. Inc. and the first editor of USA Today. Curley also served as a founding co-director of the center.

Last Updated August 13, 2018