Sportswriter, author Frank Deford to receive 2013 William Allen White Foundation National Citation

Mon, 02/04/2013


Natasha Veeser
William Allen White School of Journalism & Mass Communications

LAWRENCE — The 2013 William Allen White Foundation National Citation will go to one of the most versatile journalists in the United States. Frank Deford will receive the citation Friday, Feb. 8, at the University of Kansas. 

The ceremony and lecture are free to the public and will take place at 10:30 a.m. in Woodruff Auditorium of the Kansas Union. The citation has been awarded annually since 1950, and the recipient is chosen by the William Allen White Foundation trustees.

Deford is an author and commentator. He is the author of 18 books, including his most recent New York Times best seller, his memoir, "Over Time: My Life As A Sportswriter." He also is known for his National Public Radio commentaries.

“Frank Deford is a journalist with a true talent for the written and spoken word. His accomplishments and versatility in a demanding and changing industry make him a worthy recipient of this prestigious award,” said Ann Brill, dean of the School of Journalism and Mass Communications. “The School of Journalism and the William Allen White Foundation is proud to present him with the National Citation. He joins a list of distinguished and talented journalists who have received the citation, and we are pleased to have him join us during our celebration of William Allen White Day.”

Deford was recently chosen as the first magazine recipient of the Associated Press Sports Editor’s Red Smith award for “major contributions to sports journalism.” He also was voted as U.S. Sportswriter of The Year six times by his peers at Sports Illustrated, where he has been a senior contributing writer since 1962. His honors include induction into the Hall of Fame of the National Association of Sportscasters and Sportswriters. Deford has been presented with the National Magazine Award for profiles, a Christopher Award, and he earned journalism honor awards from the University of Missouri and Northeastern University. The University of Texas presents an annual lecture in his name. He has been granted numerous honorary degrees. The Sporting News has described Deford as “the most influential sports voice among members of the print media,” and the magazine GQ has called him, simply, “the world’s greatest sportswriter.” 

Deford has won both an Emmy and a George Foster Peabody Award. ESPN presented a television biography of Deford’s life and work, "You Write Better Than You Play."

“Frank Deford is not just a fine writer, but a regular essayist on National Public Radio and a longtime contributor to the weekly television program "HBO's Real Sports With Brian Gumbel." And while he is best known for sports writing, he has written for Newsweek and Vanity Fair, has authored 18 books and primarily because of the excellence of his writings, has been selected for 10 honorary degrees,” said Richard Clarkson, a William Allen Foundation Trustee. “Among his books was the touching and sensitive chronicle of the life — and subsequent death of his daughter, Alexandra, from cystic fibrosis. He was chairman of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation for 17 years.”

Two of Deford’s books, "Everybody’s All-American," and "Alex: The Life Of A Child," have been made into movies.

Deford can be heard Wednesdays on "Morning Edition" on National Public Radio and on television on "Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel."

Deford has served as the national chairman of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation for more than a decade and remains chairman emeritus. 

KU’s William Allen White School of Journalism and Mass Communications is named in White’s honor. White (1868–1944) was a nationally influential Kansas editor and publisher. He won the Pulitzer Prize in 1923 and posthumously in 1947.

Other notable recipients of the William Allen White Citation include Candy Crowley, 2012; John Carroll, 2011; Leonard Pitts Jr., 2010; Seymour Hersh, 2008; Gordon Parks, 2006; Gerald F. Seib, 2005, Cokie Roberts, 2002; Molly Ivins, 2001; Bob Woodward, 2000; Bernard Shaw, 1994; Charles Kuralt, 1989, Helen Thomas, 1986, James J. Kilpatrick, 1979; Arthur O. Sulzberger, 1974; Walter Cronkite, 1969, and James Reston, 1950. A complete list of past recipients is available at

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