LAWRENCE — Scott Chasen, a senior from Olathe, will travel next week to Los Angeles to accept the prestigious 2016 Jim Murray Memorial Foundation scholarship, a national award for excellence in sports writing at the college level.
Chasen was named one of five national winners of the award for a column he wrote about Marlene Mawson, who is regarded as the mother of women’s athletics at KU. Entrants were required to write a column telling the story of an event, incident or person who figures prominently in the sports history of his or her university or town.
"She took over in the ’60s and had almost no money. She started with $2,000 compared to $541,000 for the men's athletic budget and was basically told, ‘Hey, you are going to start the program.’ So she ended up working as an administrator, she coached multiple sports, she was an athlete in her own right, and basically helped develop the program in its early stages," Chasen said.
The angle for his story developed over the course of three interviews with Mawson, who still lives in Lawrence. At the first interview, Chasen arrived to find Mawson, who is in her 70s, mowing her front lawn. After meeting her, he said, "I could tell this is a person who is going to be really fiery and interesting.
“She was the right person to lead Kansas at that time because they could have put a figurehead or because Title IX had not been implemented yet. They could have put anyone in this position and set them up to fail, but she continuously worked through hardships."
(Read Chasen’s University Daily Kansan story about Mawson.)
Chasen is a news and information major in the William Allen White School of Journalism & Mass Communications. He also plans to minor in business and will graduate in spring 2017.
While at KU, Chasen has worked on the University Daily Kansan and has had his own television shows for Media Crossroads and KUJH. He landed an internship at MLB.com last summer covering the Kansas City Royals and works part-time for the Topeka Capital-Journal.
Chasen is also finalist in the Sports Story of the Year category from the American College Press. Winners will be announced Oct. 22.
The Murray award competition is currently open to 32 journalism schools, each of which are selected by the Jim Murray Memorial Foundation to participate and submit a single nominee for consideration.
The award, along with a $5,000 scholarship, honors Murray’s long and distinguished journalism career of more than 50 years, 37 of which were spent as a renowned sportswriter for The Los Angeles Times. Murray’s many honors included 14 Sports Writer of the Year awards from the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association, a Pulitzer Prize and the Red Smith Award, which is America’s most prestigious sportswriting honor.
Chasen is the fourth KU journalism student to be named a Jim Murray Memorial Scholar. Amie Just won the award last year, Mike Vernon won the award in 2013, and Alyssa Rainbolt won in 2009.