Billy Reed donates his papers to Bellarmine

January 29, 2019

Billy Reed collection
Billy Reed, a national award-winning newspaper and magazine writer, radio talk show host, public speaker and author whose career has spanned more than 50 years and more than a dozen sports, has donated his papers and books to Bellarmine University.

On Friday, February 1, Reed will sign copies of his latest book, "Last of a BReed," during a 6 p.m. event  in Bellarmine's W. L. Lyons Brown Library to celebrate the new collection.

The collection includes:
  • 800 press passes covering a span from 1961 to 2016
  • 684 Sports Illustrated magazines, complete from 1960 through 2016
  • 237 sports-related books
  • 125 programs and sports guides
  • 250 notebooks and legal pads of his interviews and notes
  • 60 Courier Journal Kentucky Derby sections
  • 300 articles, clippings and newspaper pages
  • videotaped interviews and photographs of Reed with famous sports figures
Billy Reed
“I felt like I had some things that could be of value to young journalism students, and I knew Bellarmine had some programs,” said Reed, who has been an adjunct professor at the university. “I’ve kind of just adopted Bellarmine. I went to Transylvania, and I love the liberal arts education, and I’ve just always felt at home here. I feel so gratified that there are some things in the collection that might help educate students about a particular time in our American culture where we saw many changes in sports and journalism.”

The press passes alone illustrate societal changes, said John Stemmer, director of Bellarmine's library. Many of those from the early 1970s are marked “No women in working press area,” for example, at a time when the Equal Rights Amendment was in the news.
“It’s an issue that was being debated that worked its way into workaday documents," said Stemmer. "It wasn’t just some highfalutin’ thing, it was in the trenches, and there you see it.”

The books Reed donated will go into circulation in the library and be of special interest to students in the new sports broadcasting emphasis in communication, Stemmer said. A few items will be displayed in a case on the first floor of the library; the rest will be archived.

Reed worked for Sports Illustrated, The (Louisville) Courier-Journal and the (Lexington) Herald-Leader. His writing has also appeared in TIME, The Washington Post, The Miami Herald, The Sporting News and the ESPN College Basketball Encyclopedia, among many other outlets. He was a radio talk show host in Louisville, did commentary for TV stations in Louisville and Lexington, and has made appearances on ESPN, CBS, ABC, the History Channel and CNN. Among the more than a dozen books he has written or contributed to are "Born to Coach: The Denny Crum Story," "Golden Boy: The Paul Hornung Story," "Lombardi as I Knew Him" and "Billy Reed: My Favorite Derby Stories."

He reported on a broad spectrum of sports, including basketball, football, horse racing, golf, boxing, auto and boat racing, tennis, soccer, swimming and diving, and greyhound racing. He covered the NCAA basketball tournament from 1966, when he was a senior in college, until 2012, including one continuous 28-year stretch (and Bellarmine’s 2011 national championship in men's basketball); seven Super Bowls, seven different college bowls; the World Series; the PGA; the Indianapolis 500; Muhammad Ali; and the Olympics. And, of course, he covered multiple Kentucky Derbys and the Preakness and Belmont, winning eight Red Smith Awards for Derby coverage and three Eclipse Awards for outstanding thoroughbred racing coverage.

He is a member of the Kentucky Journalism Hall of Fame, the Kentucky Athletic Hall of Fame, and the U.S. Basketball Writers Hall of Fame. Among his many awards, he received the National Headliners Club Awards for Investigative Reporting and for Consistently Outstanding Sports Columns, and was named Kentucky Sports Writer of the Year eight times.

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