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Phelps speaks on TV broadcasting

Matt Lozar | Friday, September 12, 2003

Former Notre Dame men’s basketball coach and current college basketball analyst Digger Phelps talked at the Eck Center Auditorium Thursday about breaking into the sports broadcasting business. Phelps was the first speaker of the “FTT Talks.” Phelps currently works in-studio on ESPN’s Monday and Tuesday night broadcasts and throughout the month of March almost daily. He also does analyst work with ABC on the weekend and occasionally is a color analyst at basketball games.In his talk, Phelps outlined several major points he thought would aid students to become successful in the sports broadcasting job field. Phelps spoke about building credibility through – becoming a total person by being aware of current events, being very knowledgeable about the sport one is covering and learning how to complement on-air co-workers.”The one word you want is credibility,” Phelps said. “If you lose that character, no one will want you.”Despite his deep affection for Notre Dame and the Irish, Phelps shot down the idea of luck playing any part in getting life-changing breaks. He says people new to the industry need to get involved in any way, work up the corporate ladder and take advantage of that opportunity which is bound to present itself.”There is no such thing as luck,” Phelps said. “You have to make it happen and pay your dues for the one opportunity.”When the door opens, you better go in.”Phelps also said how little things will help develop young broadcasters.Tape recording games while doing the play-by-play, selecting the perfect ties to wear on the air, finding ways to hook viewers to the segments, getting involved as soon as possible and watching broadcasters in other industries beside sports. From his experiences of bringing Notre Dame from 6-20 in his first year to 14 NCAA Tournament appearances, Phelps shared some insights about happenings behind the scenes. He talked about pep rallies before basketball games, scouting West Coast teams before the invention of videotape and his passion for beating John Wooden and UCLA.Phelps became Notre Dame’s men’s basketball coach at the age of 29 and held the position for 20 seasons. He won more games (393) than any other basketball coach in school history.Some of Phelps’ most notable accomplishments while at Notre Dame include ending UCLA’s NCAA record 88-game winning streak in 1974 at the Joyce Center, leading the only Irish men’s hoops team to the Final Four (1978) and having all 56 of his players who played for four years earn degrees.