In the spring of 2003, one of the nation’s elite college basketball stars spent many hours in the Department of Journalism, Media and Computing (JMC) computer lab at Creighton, laboring over high-level computer animation assignments. It was one of the few places Kyle Korver could escape the “Kyle-mania” that swept Omaha and the nation after sportscaster Dick Vitale dubbed him the nation’s best college basketball player.
Kyle was mobbed everywhere he went, and Creighton – unprepared for the insanity – had to change his phone number several times. However, in JMC’s discreet little world, faculty and students treated him as a regular graphic design major, not a celebrity.
Graphic design is a time-consuming major that requires hours of work using the specialized software in our labs. So, Kyle was around a lot. Like other majors, he also hung out in the Creightonian newsroom between classes and often bantered with faculty about life on the team.
Kyle was a great recruiter for JMC. If he was working in the lab when prospective students came through, he’d show them his project and urge them to choose Creighton and JMC. He inspired our recruiting postcard featuring Billy Bluejay saying, “We want you to know that our Journalism Department is as good as our basketball team.” Recipients got the connection. At least one prospective student chose Creighton over Marquette because of it.
I especially remember when Kyle was concerned that a theology professor who wouldn’t clear him to go to the Missouri Valley Conference Men’s Basketball Tournament until he turned in a big paper. With guidance from his minister-dad, he finished the paper and went on to star in the tournament. There his dad sat with then-Creighton President the Rev. John Schlegel, SJ, and complimented Creighton for enforcing its standards. (This is a story from Fr. Schlegel.)
Kyle accepted my request to appear in the Omaha Press Club Show that raised money for journalism scholarships but turned down a free dinner at OPC because of NCAA rules on favors for athletes. However, when I baked my famous brownies as a thank you, he shared them with classmates with no NCAA sanctions.
That spring he came to our senior awards night like other majors – I kept the sign-up sheet. Before graduating, Kyle signed a jersey that we framed and hung in our office. It symbolized his membership in the JMC family.
Kyle recently returned to Creighton to deliver the commencement address at the University’s two ceremonies on May 18. Kyle, JMC is proud of you as a man, not just an athlete.
By Eileen Wirth, PhD