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Veteran Sports Broadcaster Lesley Visser Honored with 2018 Al Neuharth Award

Photo of Vertan sports broadcaster Lesley Visser Lesley Visser will receive the Al Neuharth Award for Excellence in the Media on Monday, Feb. 25.

VERMILLION, S.D. – Veteran Sports Broadcaster Lesley Visser will receive the 2018 Al Neuharth Award for Excellence in Media on Monday, Feb. 25, in the Al Neuharth Media Center at the University of South Dakota.

The Al Neuharth Award for Excellence in the Media is presented by USD and the Freedom Forum Institute, a nonpartisan foundation that champions the First Amendment. The award is named after Allen H. Neuharth, a 1950 graduate of USD and founder of USA Today, the Freedom Forum and the Newseum.

Visser is the 32nd recipient and second sports broadcaster to receive the Neuharth award.

Visser got her start covering sports for the Boston Globe in 1974. In 1976, she would become the first-ever female beat writer, covering the New England Patriots. In 1992 she became the only female to have handled the Super Bowl trophy presentation. She is also the only sportscaster in history to work on network broadcasts of the Final Four, World Series, NBA Finals, Super Bowl, Olympics, Triple Crown, World Figure Skating Championship and U.S. Open.

Visser is currently the only woman to be recognized by the Pro Football Hall of Fame. She was awarded the Pete Rozelle Radio-Television Award in 2006 and was also a recipient of a Gracie Award from the American Woman in Radio and Television, Inc. that same year. In 2008, she was honored with a Billie Jean King Award for Outstanding Journalists, and in 2009, she was voted the number-one female sportscaster by the American Sportscasters Association.

The public is invited to “A Conversation with Lesley Visser,” an informative conversation between Visser and Gene Policinski, president and chief operating officer of the Freedom Forum Institute. This free event will take place from 6-7 p.m. in the Freedom Forum Conference Room located in the Al Neuharth Media Center.

“We are very excited to host Lesley Visser at USD and present her with this prestigious award inspired by one of our very own,” said USD President Sheila Gestring. “Her outstanding achievements, not only in broadcast but in breaking barriers and stereotypes, are a true inspiration to all.”

For additional information regarding the day of events, contact Public Relations Officer Hailie Warren at


USD's College of Arts & Sciences offers students a top-notch undergraduate liberal arts education in the humanities, social sciences and sciences as well as graduate programs that have earned USD distinction as a research university by the Carnegie Foundation. The college's more than 22,000 alumni include famous journalists, Hollywood screenwriters, novelists, a Nobel Prize winner, South Dakota governors, attorneys, physicians, justices of the state Supreme Court, distinguished university faculty and international humanitarians.


Founded in 1862 and the first university in the Dakotas, the University of South Dakota is the only public liberal arts university in the state, with 202 undergraduate and 84 graduate programs in the College of Arts & Sciences, School of Education, Knudson School of Law, Sanford School of Medicine, School of Health Sciences, Beacom School of Business and College of Fine Arts. With an enrollment of nearly 10,000 students and more than 400 faculty, USD has a 16:1 student/faculty ratio, and it ranks among the best in academics and affordability. USD’s 18 athletic programs compete at the NCAA Division I level.


Hanna DeLange
USD News