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Jessica Luther, Roger Brown Resident in Social Justice, Writing and Sport

Award winning investigative journalist selected for 2024 Roger Brown Residency in Social Justice, Writing and Sport

Jessica Luther, who has written extensively on the intersection of sports and violence off the field, including helping reveal Louisiana State University’s failures to respond to reports of sexual harassment and assault, will give a free, public talk Feb. 28 as part of her Roger Brown Residency in Social Justice, Writing and Sport at the University of Dayton.

Luther, who earned an Associated Press award for her reporting on LSU, also reported how Baylor University’s football team responded to reports of sexual violence by players.

Her work also has appeared in ESPN The Magazine, the Texas Observer, and at The New York Times, Sports Illustrated, BuzzFeed, and Texas Monthly.

The Roger Brown residency honors the late Brown, a former UD student-athlete, professional basketball player and member of the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame. This year's residency is Feb. 27-29.

In 1961, Brown was caught up in a national gambling scandal, was dismissed from the University and barred from playing basketball in the NCAA and NBA, despite never being charged or having any involvement in fixing games. Overcoming what are now seen as injustices, Brown eventually had a standout career in the American Basketball Association with the Indiana Pacers.

In 2019, the University of Dayton initiated an effort to honor Brown through the lens of social justice.

“Roger Brown overcame enormous challenges to achieve professional success, and for too long we, as a University, did not recognize that," President Eric F. Spina said. "Brown’s name lives on in an inspiring three-day academic experience for our students. We hope this focused look at the intersection of sports, writing and the issues of the day will lead them to work toward a more just and equitable world.”

The public is invited to hear Luther speak on the modern sports media environment at 7 p.m., Wednesday, Feb. 28 in the Kennedy Union Ballroom. She will explore what it means to do journalism and social justice in a time of shrinking newsrooms and low public credibility. Luther also will discuss the importance of diversity in the field to cover the changing sports landscape brought on by athlete activism, online sports betting, the growing popularity of women's sports, and compensation for college athletes' name, image and likeness.

“It's important to discuss the intersection of sports and social justice because sports plays such a large and very particular role in our society -— most people, in some capacity, have a personal relationship to sport as a participant or fan at some point in their lifetime," Luther said. "What happens in sporting spaces is often a microcosm of a dynamic found in our wider culture. So, to investigate and think about how social justice works in sport is to better understand our greater world. I'm so grateful to Roger Brown's family and legacy and to the University of Dayton for creating a residency that focuses on this exact intersection."

Luther is the author of two books: Unsportsmanlike Conduct: College Football and the Politics of Rape; and Loving Sports When They Don’t Love You Back: Dilemmas of the Modern Sports Fan, which she wrote with fellow sports journalist Kavitha Davidson.

From 2018 to 2022, Luther was a host of the sports podcast “Burn It All Down,” which brought a  feminist lens to the biggest stories in sports. She was also the story editor for the third season of the “American Prodigies” podcast, which tells the story of how Black girls moved from the margins of U.S. gymnastics to its core.

Designed to be an annual residency when launched in 2019, it has been on hiatus because of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Parking for the Feb. 28 lecture is available in Lots B and C

Luther will be available for interviews at 3:30 p.m., Wednesday, Feb. 28, contact Cara Zinski-Neace to RSVP. 


News and Communications Staff