ESPN founder Rasmussen to speak at DePauw Thursday
ESPN founder Bill Rasmussen will return to his DePauw University alma mater on Thursday, Oct. 4 to deliver a lecture as part of the school's ongoing 175th anniversary Distinguished Alumni Lecture Series.
Rasmussen, a 1954 DPU graduate, will speak beginning at 8 p.m. Thursday in Kresge Auditorium of the Performing Arts Center. The lecture is free and open to the public.
Called the "father of cable sports" by USA Today, Rasmussen founded ESPN as the world's first 24-hour TV network.
ESPN began televising on Sept. 7, 1979, forever changing the face of television sports in this country.
In 1994 Sports Illustrated listed Rasmussen as one of 40 individuals who had the greatest impact on the world of sports over the previous 40 years.
The magazine quotes Rasmussen: "As founder of ESPN, I saw a company and an entire industry explode on the American television scene with breathtaking speed. Its impact forever changed the way Americans watch television."
In his account of the evolution of the American sports cable channel, "ESPN: The Uncensored History," Michael Freeman describes a programming discussion between Rasmussen and his son Scott (a 1986 DePauw graduate) on the eve of its launch.
"'Dad, play football all day for all I care,' Scott finally exclaimed. 'I'm just sick of talking about this.' Bill Rasmussen did a double take. 'Why not? I mean, why not? What's wrong with football all day?'"
Sportscaster Chris Berman of ESPN calls Rasmussen "the George Washington of ESPN."
Also scheduled to deliver Distinguished Alumni Lectures in DePauw's 175th anniversary series are:
-- Pollster Scott Rasmussen, son of Bill Rasmussen and founder and president of Rasmussen Reports and the polling site Rasmussenreports.com, Class of 1986, Feb. 20.
-- Nobel Prize winner Dr. Ferid Murad, whose work involving the effect of nitric oxide on the cardiovascular system helped create Viagra and related drugs, Class of 1958, March 2013.
-- Fox News Channel anchor Brett Baier, Class of 1992, date TBA.