Sports Broadcasting Hall of Fame Announces Class of 2011

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The Sports Broadcasting Hall of Fame is proud to announce the class of 2011, a distinguished group of sports-TV professionals who will be inducted into the Hall on Dec. 13 in a ceremony to be held at the New York Hilton hotel.

This year’s class includes legendary broadcaster Jack Buck; former NBC executive Dick Ebersol; Bill France, Jr., who transformed NASCAR; NEP Supershooter’s innovative Deb Honkus and George Hoover; IMG founder Mark McCormack; NFL Films great Steve Sabol; and visionary audio mixer Ron Scalise, a lynchpin at ESPN.

“Elected by a group of 80 past and present industry leaders, the 2011 class continues a tradition of excellence that once again reinforces the depth of talent, commitment, and leadership that makes the sports-broadcasting industry as important as it is,” says Sports Broadcasting Hall of Fame Chairman Ken Aagaard. “This year’s ceremony promises to be very special.”

This year’s class will be the fifth, and the inductees will join such luminaries as Roone Arledge, John Madden, Don Ohlmeyer, Pete Rozelle, Vin Scully, Charlie Steinberg, George Wensel, and more than 30 others.

THE CLASS OF 2011

Jack Buck

Buck was an American sportscaster, best known for his work announcing Major League Baseball games of the St. Louis Cardinals. He received the Ford C. Frick Award from the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1987 and is honored with a star on the St. Louis Walk of Fame. He was inducted into the American Sportscasters Association Hall of Fame in 1990 and into the National Radio Hall of Fame in 1995. The recently finished I-64/US-40 in St. Louis has been named in Buck’s honor. The father of Fox Sports lead NFL and MLB announcer Joe Buck, Jack Buck died in 2002.

Dick Ebersol

During a career spanning more than 40 years, the past 22 as the top executive at NBC Sports, Ebersol has been one of the most dominant executives in the history of the industry and reshaped the way sports are produced for television.

Ebersol’s crowning achievement has been establishing NBC Sports as the home of the Olympic Games over the past 20-plus years. Beginning in 1967, he joined Roone Arledge and ABC Sports as television’s first-ever Olympics researcher. In 1989, Ebersol became president of NBC Sports. He served as executive producer for the 1992 Barcelona Olympic Games, his first Olympics since Munich in 1972 for ABC, and quickly made NBC into “America’s Olympic Network.” He successfully won the rights to and produced nearly every Olympic Games since Barcelona.

Ebersol has also played an integral role in NBC Sports’ Super Bowl productions, as well as the launch of NBC Sunday Night Football in 2006. His early tenure at NBC Sports was highlighted by a spectacular string of sports-property acquisitions and renewals,  including the NFL, NBA, Notre Dame football, and MLB.

Ebersol also boasts a storied career in entertainment television, having produced a variety of Emmy-winning programs and playing an integral role in the launch and development of Saturday Night Live.

Bill France Jr.

Nicknamed Bill Jr. and “Little Bill,” France served as the head of NASCAR from 1972 to 2000. After serving as VP for six years, he took the top post when his father, Bill France Sr., retired. Under Little Bill’s tenure, NASCAR went from a Southern regional sport to a national sport. The organization had few televised races when he took the reins, and those that did air in the 1970s were mixed into shows like ABC’s Wide World of Sports. France signed a deal with CBS Sports President Neal Pilson to televise the 1979 Daytona 500 from flag to flag. It was the first live flag-to-flag national coverage of a NASCAR race. The ratings helped France sign television contracts with ESPN in 1980, TNN in 1990, and TBS. In 1999, France’s career culminated in a record-setting $2.4 billion television-broadcasting contract for the 2001 season. He died in 2007.

Debbie Honkus

As CEO of NEP Broadcasting, Honkus is responsible for managing and directing the day-to-day operations of the company’s engineering, sales, and operations departments. She started out in the industry at Total Communications Systems (TCS) in 1978, eventually becoming general manager. When NEP and TCS merged in 1988, Honkus became GM of the newly formed company. Since then, she has served as VP, president, and now CEO.

Since starting with NEP, Honkus has grown the business into the largest television-production-services company in the country, supporting major broadcasts like Super Bowls for NBC and CBS; the Olympic Games for NBC; Monday Night Football for ESPN; Sunday Night Football for NBC; the NFL on CBS and Fox; the PGA Tour for NBC, CBS, and Golf Channel; US Open tennis; and NASCAR on ESPN and Turner.

She served as project manager for the Goodwill Games in 1990 and received her first Sports Emmy in 1992 for her work as technical operations director of the America’s Cup. She also won Sports Emmys in 1993 and ’95, when she served as manager of technical remotes for ESPN’s SpeedWorld coverage of NASCAR, and in 2011 for NEP’s work on CBS’s 3D coverage of US Open tennis. Honkus’s influence is felt at TV compounds around the country at the 2,600 sporting events that NEP covers on average each year.

George Hoover

Hoover has been a member of NEP Broadcasting since 1993 and currently serves as chief technology officer. He started with the company as director of engineering, becoming SVP of engineering in 1999 and CTO in 2007. During his tenure at NEP, he has shepherded the largest fleet of production trucks in the industry, from SD to HD to 3D. Responsible for managing the design, integration, and maintenance of technology for the Supershooters fleet, which comprises more than 60 individual HD, SD, and support units, his expertise and influence is felt daily at television compounds around the country. The Florida State University graduate earned two Sports Emmys at the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta, one as a producer and the other as technical team supervisor. In 2009, Broadcasting & Cable recognized Hoover as a visionary in the industry in the 12th Annual Technology Leadership Awards. His experience lead him to literally write the book on remote television production in 2003; co-authored by Jim Boston, it’s titled TV on Wheels: The Story of Remote Television Production.

Mark McCormack

McCormack was considered a legendary executive for literally inventing the field of sports marketing as the founder, chairman, and CEO of International Management Group (IMG). In addition to being the world’s largest athlete-representation firm, IMG is the largest independent producer of TV sports programming and distributor of sports TV rights. The firm also promotes, manages, and owns hundreds of sporting events throughout the world. Its Trans World International (TWI) broadcast division, set up in the 1960s to film a handful of golf events, is the world’s largest independent television-sports-production company and rights distributor. McCormack died in 2003.

Steve Sabol

Sabol is an American filmmaker, as well as the president and one of the founding members of NFL Films. He attended Colorado College, where he played football. He began working at NFL Films as a camera operator alongside his father, Ed Sabol, who founded the company in 1964. Father and son worked with famous sports-film director Dan Endy. And Steve Sabol started in the film industry when his father got the rights to the 1962 NFL Championship.

The newly founded ESPN signed NFL Films as a production company, and Sabol became an on-air personality. He has since won 27 Emmy Awards and has had a documentary (Tight on the Spiral) air about him. Sabol also played an integral part in founding the NFL Network.

Ron Scalise

A 14-time Emmy Award-winning audio mixer and innovator for ESPN, Scalise was an expert in surround sound and was among the industry leaders in enhancing the audio experience for viewers of ESPN events. He was a key part of the sound innovations in the X Games and worked on a variety of projects, including Monday Night Football and NASCAR. Scalise was a proponent of educating both consumers and audio professionals in how to bring the sound of sports into the nation’s living rooms. He died in 2007.