Robin Roberts has been named the 2018 recipient of the NCAA President’s Gerald R. Ford Award, which honors an individual who has provided significant leadership as an advocate for college sports.
Roberts, a five-time Emmy Award-winning broadcaster, has worked in broadcasting for more than 30 years. Roberts was a sportscaster for ESPN’s “SportsCenter” and “NFL PrimeTime” before contributing to ABC’s “Good Morning America” starting in 1995. She was named co-anchor of the morning show in 2005.
“Robin Roberts has consistently inspired all of us to face any challenges in front of us with grit and optimism,” NCAA President Mark Emmert said. “We have watched this former college basketball player build a successful career, and we have rooted for her as she gracefully fought breast cancer. Robin is an exemplary leader who advocates for women in all aspects of life — athletics included — and I cannot think of a more deserving recipient for this award.”
A former women’s basketball student-athlete at Southeastern Louisiana, Roberts is credited with tapping into her personal experiences to shape and expand ESPN’s coverage of the sport during her 15-year tenure with the company. Her efforts to draw attention to women’s basketball helped pave the way for the current broadcast format of the Division I women’s basketball tournament.
In 2007, Roberts was diagnosed with breast cancer, and five years later was diagnosed with myelodysplastic syndrome, a bone marrow disorder. Roberts underwent a bone marrow transplant and has since partnered with “Be the Match” to raise awareness about the need for more bone marrow donors. Roberts has been recognized by organizations such as the Susan G. Komen Foundation for her work to raise awareness during her battle with cancer, and in 2013, she received the Arthur Ashe Courage Award at ESPN’s ESPY Awards.
Roberts is a member of the Broadcasting & Cable Hall of Fame, as well as the Sports Broadcasting Hall of Fame. In 2014, she received the Walter Cronkite Award for Excellence in Journalism.
Roberts graduated cum laude from Southeastern Louisiana in 1983 with a degree in communication. Roberts was one of the school’s all-time leading scorers (1,446) and rebounders (1,034) at the time of her graduation.
In 2006, she was named to the NCAA’s list of “100 Most Influential Student-Athletes” in an ESPN special celebrating college athletes from the first 100 years of NCAA sports. Then, in 2012, Roberts was inducted to the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame.
“I’m incredibly grateful for my experience as a student-athlete,” Roberts said. “I learned so much about myself during that time. Being a student-athlete has helped me tremendously in many aspects of my life, both personally and professionally. I’m truly honored to receive this prestigious award.”
The award will be presented Jan. 19 at the 2018 NCAA Convention in Indianapolis.
Named in recognition of Gerald Ford, the 38th U.S. president and a member of two University of Michigan national championship football teams, the award was established in 2004 by the late NCAA President Myles Brand. It was first awarded to the Rev. Theodore Hesburgh, former president of Notre Dame. Turner Sports analyst and former NBA player Grant Hill was last year’s recipient.
By Meghan Durham
Meghan Durham is Assistant Director of Public and Media Relations for the NCAA.