When sportswriter Ken Davidoff retired in March 2022, he wasn’t quite sure what he would do next. What comes after a legendary 25-year career covering Major League Baseball at Newsday and the New York Post, among others?
Teach a college course, as it turns out.
With some ideas in mind but nothing confirmed, Davidoff put out a message to his friends and contacts on Twitter, looking for his next move. That’s when Endicott President Steven R. DiSalvo, Ph.D., responded with an idea—let’s bring Davidoff and his storied experience to Endicott.
Davidoff and DiSalvo have a history that goes back about 20 years, when DiSalvo was executive director of the Joe Torre Safe At Home Foundation and Davidoff was covering the New York Mets. They became acquainted during spring training and stayed in touch.
“When I stepped down, I was hoping that I’d get to do interesting things with people I liked and respected,” explained Davidoff. “And that’s precisely what has happened here. I think the world of Steve and I was so pleased that he reached out to me and said he’d love to have me up doing something at Endicott.”
Davidoff drove up to Beverly to spend a few days getting acquainted with the College and faculty and “instantly fell in love with it.”
After meeting with Director and Assistant Professor of Sport Leadership Anthony D’Onofrio, a plan emerged—Davidoff would host six Endicott students, along with Dean of the School of Sport Science Deborah Swanton and Faculty Department Lead and Associate Professor Alyssa Czarnecki, in New York City to attend the Sports Business Journal’s CAA World Congress of Sports and Esports Rising events.
Held in October, the World Congress is known as one of the largest and most prestigious sports business conferences. Davidoff connected the Endicott group with a representative from the Sports Business Journal to arrange volunteer positions and attendance at both events for the visiting students.
Sport management major Seth Rawls ’22 said the trip was an amazing experience, enhanced by Davidoff’s encouragement.
“Ken was truly incredible! He provided us with information and stories and gave me the confidence to network with some higher-level individuals in the industry.”
Mark Lepage M’23, who attended as a sport leadership graduate student, agrees.
“Ken is not only a phenomenal journalist but an even better person,” he shared. “He showed us great hospitality and even had us all over for dinner at his house in Manhattan. He was always willing to help connect us with someone that he knew from the industry, or to offer advice about a particular career.”
For several of the attendees, networking with a variety of high-level sports professionals was a highlight of the trip. A few of the contacts Endicott students made included: Jessica Berman, Commissioner of the National Women’s Soccer League; Gary Bettman, NHL Commissioner; Ashley Brewer, an anchor on SportsCenter and ESPN; Jessica Gelman, CEO of Kraft Analytics Group; Steve Phelps, President of NASCAR; Marie Woods, Senior Sponsorship Manager at T-Mobile; and Aimee Latimer, President of TD Garden.
“The most fun thing I got to do while being there was getting the chance to discuss my future career in sport marketing and coaching in the professional league with the president of the Florida Panthers,” said sport management major Kaylee Liberty ’23.
Swanton adds that the trip was a “tremendous success” on all counts.
“We are grateful for the opportunity to attend the conferences and appreciate the support of President DiSalvo and Provost Quay,” she said. “The students were truly inspired by the experience and continue to be in contact with professionals they met.”
“Observing our students interact with such strong knowledge of their disciplines and such self-confidence as young professionals was truly a delight,” said Czarnecki. “As a department, we work hard to ensure that our evolution in curriculum, course content, and learning activities are relevant, and seeing the synergies between the classroom and industry firsthand is always reassuring. Our ability to add value to these students' resumes by partaking in experiential learning opportunities such as this is really a strategic commitment by not only our school but college-wide.”
While planning the NYC trip, Davidoff and Endicott leadership explored other opportunities to share Davidoff’s expertise with students. The result? He’s now preparing to teach an undergraduate sports journalism class in spring 2023.
Davidoff’s goal is to hit all the required elements of the class while adding much more experiential lessons, like hosting guest speakers from his expansive list of industry contacts and setting up a live press conference for students to practice interviewing skills. Traditional elements of the sports journalism class include covering a beat, social media, opinion writing, storytelling, investigative journalism, reporting on social issues, and more.
Davidoff hopes that what he’s learned working “on the ground level” in his career will translate into some unique and valuable lessons for students.
“I’ve showed up the next day when I wrote something critical, and I dealt with the consequences of that,” he shared. “I think I have a lot to share about accountability, about diplomacy, about the way you build relationships and maintain them, even through adversity. And those qualities don't apply only to sports journalism, but are absolutely critical to sports journalism.”
After meeting Davidoff during the NYC trip, Quentin Rodriguez M’23 (sport leadership) has already benefitted from this idea. He says the longevity of Davidoff’s career is what sets him apart as an instructor.
“He has many connections and talks about the importance of nurturing and preserving relationships with people in the industry,” Rodriguez explained.
It won’t just be sport leadership majors who benefit from Davidoff’s experience—apart from co-planning a January sport leadership online event and participating in the Sport Leadership Advisory Board, you can expect to see him involved in other things around campus and fulfilling a passion for mentoring students and grads.
“My craft was sports journalism; that’s my fundamental skill. But just from being around the world of sports and sports business, I do think I have some wisdom to offer in those areas,” Davidoff said. “I'm getting the best of both worlds—that I’m able to help with my precise skill, but also help out with these peripheral areas where I think I do have some knowledge. I know how many people helped me along the way, and I get great joy from helping younger people achieve their dreams.”
Liberty says learning from Davidoff’s experience has already helped her prepare for a career in sports.
“Ken is a unique and interesting person who has gone through the sports world and can express his way of living through it,” she shared. “Many [people] say the sports professional world is a busy business to enter, and hearing how he and his family coped with it is interesting to hear.”
Davidoff says he’s looking forward to being a part of the Endicott community and to meet people at events on campus.
Sounds like it’s just the beginning of his post-retirement career.