Scholarship honors Nebraska alumnus and legendary sports communicator Fox Bryant

Scholarship honors Nebraska alumnus and legendary sports communicator Fox Bryant

Thursday, July 6, 2017 - 8:00am
Don and Pedie Bryant
Don and Pedie Bryant

“The sports information legend who practically invented the profession,” is how the Lincoln Journal Star described Nebraska journalism alumnus Don “Fox” Bryant in a 2014 article about his life.

Bryant, who enjoyed a long and notable career in communications and administration with Nebraska athletics, has now been honored with a named scholarship fund at the College of Journalism and Mass Communications. 

The Don “Fox” and Joan “Pedie” Bryant Scholarship Fund was established with a $25,000 gift from the Bryant family to the University of Nebraska Foundation. Together with contributions from family and friends, the scholarship is now a $33,000 permanently endowed fund that will forever provide annual awards to senior journalism majors who have financial need. The scholarship is also specially designed to help students who are interested in careers in sports journalism. 

“Our family is pleased to present this scholarship in memory of our father, who absolutely adored the University of Nebraska and his gratifying profession there,” said Bill Bryant, son of Fox and Pedie Bryant. “Together with our mother, who we also honor, we are all thrilled to know the scholarship will help so many new young journalists and communicators over the years.”

Cheyenne Rowe of Omaha is the inaugural recipient of the named scholarship. She’s a senior who plans to graduate in 2018 with a journalism major, minor in Native American studies and an English concentration. The daughter of Paula Baldozier and Roger Rowe, she’s a 2014 graduate of Benson High School in Omaha.

“I am more than honored to be the first recipient of the Bryant Scholarship,” Rowe said. “I only hope to live up to the legacy this scholarship strives for as I complete my last year at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln with its help.”

The gift from the Bryant family also provides support for Our Students, Our Future, the University of Nebraska’s current initiative seeking broad support for students.

A passion for athletics and higher education communication

After serving in the U.S. Marines, Bryant began defining his communications career.

He served as sports editor at the Lincoln Star from 1954 to 1963. He then ventured a few blocks away to UNL where he served as its sports information director for 31 years, as assistant athletic director for 18 years, as director of the Bob Devaney Sports Center for eight years and as associate athletic director for communications for five years.

Toward the end of his career, he enjoyed a return to the classroom, this time teaching sports public relations as associate professor of journalism at his alma mater. 

Following retirement from UNL in 1997, Bryant assisted Nebraska athletics in the development of a Hall of Fame, historical timeline, and sports museum. In 1999, the new sixth floor Memorial Stadium press box was named the Don Bryant Media Facility.

Bryant wrote the book “Tales from the Nebraska Sidelines” and co-authored “Devaney” together with Bob Devaney, Mike Babcock, Randy York and Virgil Parker.

He received many awards and recognitions throughout his career, including the Nebraska Press Association Journalism Hall of Fame, Football Writers Association of America Bert McGrane Award, College Football Hall of Fame and much more.

Other unique highlights from his profession include his service as media relations specialist for the U.S Winter Olympics in 1980, 1984 and 1988. He also assisted with media relations for the United States Olympic Committee, served 20 years on the NCAA media services staff for Final Four basketball, and was chief U.S. press officer for the World Cup Games in 1979.

On the topic of his career and longtime service with Nebraska, Bryant once said: “The games kind of fade, but all those fantastic people I’ve met and worked with over the years, they don’t fade, and they are the reason this job has been worth every second.”

Fox and Pedie Bryant were married 63 years and raised two sons, Bill and Jeff. They have four grandchildren and three great-grandchildren. Fox Bryant died December 5, 2014, in Lincoln.

Falling in love at the University of Nebraska

Pedie Bryant continues to live in Lincoln and grew up in Oakland, Nebraska, where she has fond memories of school days, church activities, singing and playing the flute – including playing flute with her dad, Frank, in the city band.

After graduating from high school in 1947, she lived with her aunt and uncle in Montrose, California, and attended junior college. The next year she attended the Chouinard Art Institute in Los Angeles, a well-known school that Walt and Roy Disney later helped merge into the California Institute of the Arts. In 1949, she returned to Nebraska and transferred to the art school at the University of Nebraska and joined Gamma Phi Beta.

It’s on campus Pedie and Fox met in 1950 and fell in love. Pedie says Fox was just “a great guy.” They were married the next year on February 3, 1951, at the Oakland Methodist Church. Fox was enrolled in the Marines, so the newlyweds moved to North Carolina, where Pedie taught grade school on an island near Cherry Point.

The couple returned to Lincoln where they raised their sons. Pedie enjoyed working with Lincoln voter registration and was a paraeducator at Beattie Elementary School, where she oversaw the creative room, reading and science. Other highlights of her career include serving with the Lincoln Children’s Museum, the University of Nebraska Teacher’s College, and as a board member for the Haymarket Art Gallery.

Pedie recalls attending 32 college football bowl games with Fox and many Final Four basketball tournaments. Together, they also enjoyed camping with friends, hiking and traveling.

A lasting legacy for the future of education

The Bryant family created their scholarship as an opportunity to extend their family legacy at Nebraska while supporting young people in their pursuit of an education and communications career. They hope their gift inspires others to consider doing something meaningful as well.

To learn more about how a gift, either made now or through a planned gift, can make a difference for students and academic programs at the College of Journalism and Mass Communications, contact Greg Jensen, senior development director, at 402-458-1181 or greg.jensen@nufoundation.org.