Journalism and Sports Program

Ron Thomas' Biography

Ron Thomas, a sports writer and copy editor for four decades, became the first director of Morehouse College’s Journalism and Sports Program in 2007. The culmination of his work occurred in 2017 when he received the Morehouse College Professor of the Year award and National Association of Black Journalists Legacy Award. 

USA Today’s First NBA Writer

Prior to joining Morehouse, Thomas worked for 29 years in the San Francisco Bay Area. In two stints from 1978-1991, he covered college sports, the Golden State Warriors and San Francisco 49ers for the San Francisco Chronicle, and from 1982-84, he was USA Today’s first NBA reporter/editor.

He wrote game stories, features and columns for the San Francisco Examiner from 2000 to 2003, mainly covering baseball’s San Francisco Giants, the Warriors, college sports and professional tennis. From 2003 to 2007, Thomas was a freelance sports writer and copy editor, contributing articles to BlackAmericaWeb.com and the NAACP’s Crisis Magazine.

 His Specialty: Race in Sports

Much of his impetus for becoming a sports writer stemmed from the writings of Dr. Harry Edwards and Sports Illustrated’s Jack Olsen in the 1960s, which made America acutely aware of racism in sports. 

The work he is most proud of relates to that topic, including a: 

• 1999 column entitled “Why So Few?” about the lack of black NFL coaches that won a National Association of Black Journalists first-place award;

• 1987 column about Al Campanis’ infamous “necessities” interview; 

•  2006 Crisis Magazine article about the lack of black female head coaches at predominantly white colleges.

 In 2011, Thomas was presented with an Excellence in Sports Journalism Lifetime Achievement Award from Northeastern University’s School of Journalism and Center for the Study of Sport in Society. He specifically was honored for his articles and publications about the racial dimensions of sports.

 A Blogger and Author

 Since 2012, Thomas’ columns have appeared in The New York Times, Atlanta Journal-Constitution and Huffington Post, he has been a guest on several radio and TV programs, and he writes a blog called “My Take.”  

Thomas’ book, “They Cleared the Lane: the NBA’s Black Pioneers,” was published in 2002 by University of Nebraska Press. The idea for the book arose after Thomas received overwhelmingly positive reader response from a 1987 newspaper series about how the NBA became integrated in 1950. 

The book is the first written about the process and turmoil that brought black players into the NBA after team owners secretly banned them from the league’s first four seasons.

In 1996, Thomas’ chapter “Black Faces Still Rare in the Press Box” was published in the sociology textbook "Sports in Society: Equal Opportunity or Business as Usual?"

 Virtually Raised in Stadiums

 A native of Buffalo, as a child Thomas felt at home in sports stadiums after frequently attending baseball, football and basketball games with his family. He graduated from the University of Rochester in 1971 with a degree in political science and earned a master’s degree in journalism from Northwestern University in 1973. 

 A member of the National Association of Black Journalists since 1977, Thomas was the first chair of its Sports Task Force and co-hosts its annual ceremonies honoring retired black sports pioneers.

 Now residing in Atlanta, his hobbies include playing tennis, going to plays, hearing actors and directors talk about movies on National Public Radio, and eating delicious pancakes anywhere.