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Iconic journalist comes home to deliver UT commencement address May 7

Toledo native Christine Brennan, an award-winning national columnist, commentator and best-selling author, will present the keynote address during The University of Toledo’s spring commencement ceremony at 10 a.m. Sunday, May 7 in the Glass Bowl on Main Campus.

Brennan will address 2,906 candidates for degrees, including 236 doctoral, 681 master’s, 1,932 bachelor’s and 57 associate’s degree candidates.

The ceremony is open to the public and can be viewed live at

Christine Brennan

Brennan, 58, grew up in Toledo’s Old Orchard area and Ottawa Hills during the 1960s and ‘70s, when few athletic opportunities existed for girls. As a child, she often asked for sports equipment and tickets to local athletic events, including UT Rockets and Toledo Mud Hens games.

“We’re proud to welcome a true trailblazer for women back as our commencement speaker,” UT President Sharon L. Gaber said. “When Christine entered the world of sports reporting, female journalists weren’t even allowed in men’s locker rooms. Now, 35 years later, she is one of the most respected journalists in sports reporting.”

Brennan’s appearance in the Glass Bowl during UT’s first outdoor commencement ceremony in nearly a decade is poignant because she attended football games in the historic stadium with her father.

“It’s such an honor to be giving the commencement keynote address in the Glass Bowl, where I spent so much time as a child cheering for the undefeated Rockets,” Brennan said referring to UT’s 35-0 streak from 1969 to 1971. “I threw my heart and soul into that team and it rewarded fans like me with victory after victory. To be coming back to a place filled with so many great memories is just a delight.”

Brennan earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism. A staunch advocate for female journalists in a male-oriented profession, she was the first female sports reporter for the Miami Herald. Later hired by The Washington Post, she was the first woman to cover the Washington Redskins as a staff writer for the newspaper.

She went on to cover some of the most controversial subjects in sports. Her USA Today column regarding the male-only member policy at Augusta National Golf Club in 2002 triggered a vigorous national debate. Ten years later, Brennan broke the news that Augusta had revised its policy to include women members.

Brennan also broke the story about a judging scandal in figure skating during the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, Utah, as well as a similar judging scandal during the 2014 winter games in Sochi, Russia.

Currently, Brennan is a national columnist at USA Today and a commentator at ABC News, CNN, PBS NewsHour and National Public Radio. She has authored seven books, including best-seller “Inside Edge,” which was named one of the top 100 sports books in history by Sports Illustrated.

Brennan has twice been named one of the country’s top 10 sports columnists by the Associated Press Sports Editors. She was the first president of the Association for Women in Sports Media (AWSM), and created an AWSM program that provides internships and scholarships for women. To date, more than 140 students have benefited from that program.

UT’s spring commencement ceremony will recognize graduates from the colleges of Arts and Letters, Business and Innovation, Engineering, Health and Human Services, Graduate Studies, Natural Sciences and Mathematics, Nursing, and Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, as well as University College and Judith Herb College of Education.

Prior to 1998, the Glass Bowl had historically been the site for UT’s commencement celebrations. It hosted graduation again in 2008 when Savage Arena was undergoing renovations.

The Glass Bowl was built by the Works Progress Administration in 1936 for $313,558 to seat 8,000 people. The football stadium has been renovated over the years, while keeping the atmosphere of the original facility intact, to now seat more than 26,000 Rocket fans.

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is UT's Media Relations Specialist. Contact her at 419.530.2077 or
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