Ira Berkow, Pulitzer Prize-winning Journalist, Shares Life Lessons during Sports Law Class at Berkeley College

Contact: Ilene Greenfield
Director of Media Relations
973-278-5400, Ext. 1-5122


Berkeley College

Students in the Berkeley College Legal Studies program met Ira Berkow, Pulitzer Prize-winning sports writer, during their class on sports law on June 19, 2018, in New York City. Mr. Berkow discussed his Chicago roots, along with his experiences as a journalist, and sparked a dialogue about whether college athletes should be paid.


“We live in a capitalistic society. There should be some kind of system in revenue-generating sports to pay athletes in some way,” said Mr. Berkow in his remarks about the merits and consequences of paying college athletes.


Mr. Berkow is known as one of America’s most prolific sports writers and was part of a team of journalists at The New York Times that won the Pulitzer for National Reporting in 2001, for a series on “How Race is Lived in America.” The series included his essay titled “The Minority Quarterback,” about the difficulties faced by a white football player at a historically black college. An author of numerous books, Mr. Berkow was a sports reporter and columnist for The New York Times, from 1981 to 2007.


Mr. Berkow failed at his first college attempt at the University of Illinois in Chicago. Six months later, he attended Roosevelt University on scholarship and eventually transferred to Miami University in Oxford, OH, where he earned a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature in 1963. He completed his Master's degree at Medill School of Journalism, Northwestern University, Evanston, IL, in 1965.


While at Miami University, Mr. Berkow wrote to renowned New York Times sports columnist Red Smith and asked him for his opinion on an article Mr. Berkow authored for his school’s newspaper.  Mr. Smith responded by saying he did not want to discourage the aspiring writer or make him “unhappy” by marking up his story in red. He told Mr. Berkow to “keep trying.” Mr. Berkow then sent Mr. Smith another letter and a second article, and wrote, “Dear Mr. Smith, Make me unhappy.”


Years later, when Mr. Smith died, Mr. Berkow was asked by The New York Times to write the obituary for his mentor and friend. “I was grieving, but I had to write the story,” he said. Subsequently, he also authored a biography about Red Smith.


Mr. Berkow also recalled an encounter with U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Antonin Scalia in 1999 that ended abruptly when Mr. Berkow shared his views that golfer Casey Martin, who has a birth defect that prevents him from walking long distances, should be permitted to compete in the PGA Tour with the use of a golf cart. In 2001, the case went to the U.S. Supreme Court. “The Court ruled 7-2 that the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 applied to the PGA Tour. Justice Scalia (and Justice Clarence Thomas) offered the dissenting opinions,” Mr. Berkow said.


“Berkeley College was honored to have Ira Berkow share his insights about the merits of paying college athletics,” said Patricia Greer, JD, Chair, Legal Studies, Berkeley College School of Professional Studies. “Mr. Berkow’s keen wit and extensive knowledge of the world of college athletes provided an excellent learning opportunity.”

Berkeley College

Photo Caption: Students in the Berkeley College Legal Studies program met Ira Berkow, Pulitzer Prize-winning sports writer (above, center), during their class in sports law course with Professor William Gahwyler, JD (far left). Mr. Berkow discussed his Chicago roots, along with his experiences as a journalist, and sparked a dialogue about whether college athletes should be paid. Additional faculty pictured include Patricia Greer, JD, Chair (fifth from left), Legal Studies, Berkeley College School of Professional Studies and Professor Frank Cuzzi, Marketing, Berkeley College Larry L. Luing School of Business®.

A leader in providing career-focused education since 1931, Berkeley College is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education and enrolls more than 7,100 students – including more than 440 international students – in its Master’s, Bachelor’s, and Associate’s degree and Certificate programs. Students can study in more than 20 career fields. Berkeley College is comprised of the Larry L. Luing School of Business®, the School of Professional Studies, the School of Health Studies and the School of Liberal Arts. The School of Graduate Studies offers an MBA in Management online and in Woodland Park, NJ.


Berkeley College has three New York campuses – Midtown Manhattan, Brooklyn and White Plains. In New Jersey there are four campuses – Newark, Paramus, Woodbridge and Woodland Park. Berkeley College Online® serves a global population. For five consecutive years, U.S. News & World Report has named Berkeley College among the Best Colleges for Online Bachelor’s Programs and among the Best Online Bachelor’s Programs for Veterans. The website address is

- End -





Recent Releases

Jan 18, 2019 7:27:00 AM

Berkeley College Ranked for Sixth Consecutive Year on U.S. News & World Report List of Best Online Bachelor Programs for Veterans

For the sixth consecutive year, U.S. News and World Report, in its 2019 rankings of Best Colleges for Online Bachelor Degree ...
Jan 18, 2019 7:25:00 AM

Berkeley College Foundation Launches Food Pantry in Newark to Help Students Succeed

The Berkeley College Foundation has launched a food pantry at Berkeley College’s Newark campus on Broad Street.
Jan 16, 2019 12:45:00 PM

Berkeley College Celebrates Life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. through Community Service and Special Events

Berkeley College students, faculty and staff are commemorating the impact of civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. through ...