Sal Paolantonio to Give Commencement Speech
SUNY Oneonta President Nancy Kleniewski is proud to announce that the State University of New York Board of Trustees has awarded ESPN National Correspondent Sal Paolantonio with the degree of honorary doctorate of Humane Letters to be conferred at the college’s 124th commencement next month. Paolantonio, who graduated from SUNY Oneonta in 1977 and has been a journalist working in newspapers, magazines, television and radio for 30 years, will deliver the commencement address for the Class of 2013 on May 18.
“It is exciting to welcome Sal Paolantonio back to our campus,” said SUNY Oneonta President Nancy Kleniewski. “Through the years, he has established a special bond with the college, especially our students, who are inspired by his personal story, enthusiasm and encouragement. We are delighted that Sal will join us in honoring and congratulating this year’s graduates.”
“I am humbled by this honor,” said Paolantonio. “Sitting in freshman English class in 1974, getting lectured about my clumsy syntax, I could barely imagine getting my degree, no less someday receiving an honorary doctorate. To me, this honor belongs to all those great Oneonta professors—Steve Rubin, James Capo, Paul Italia, the late Jay Pawa, and many others —who saw the potential and dragged it out of me.”
In April 2012, Paolantonio spoke at the college’s Student Research & Creative Activity Day, recounting his introduction to SUNY Oneonta as a student and sharing his appreciation for the role the college played in preparing him for a career as a media professional.
Paolantonio graduated, cum laude, from SUNY Oneonta, earning a B.A. in history with a minor in English literature in just three years. While at the college, he was a resident adviser and a staff member of both WONY, the campus radio station, and The State Times, the student newspaper. For the SUNY Oneonta Centennial celebration, Paolantonio was named one of the top 100 graduates in the school’s history.
In his journalism career, Paolantonio has traveled the world, covering 20 Super Bowls, Wimbledon, three national political conventions and the 1985 famine in Africa. Among his many honors are two Associated Press awards for reporting and six sports Emmys.
At ESPN, Paolantonio now covers the NFL for “SportsCenter” and “Sunday NFL Countdown” and hosts the “NFL Matchup” show. He is the author of three best-selling books, including “How Football Explains America.” He is a member of the selection committee for the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, OH.
Paolantonio is a retired Navy lieutenant and married to Lynn (McGraw) Paolantonio, SUNY Oneonta Class of ’78. They have three grown daughters.
More than 1,000 students are expected to take part in graduation at SUNY Oneonta. Ceremonies will take place on May 18 at the Alumni Fieldhouse on the college campus.