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 NEWS

For immediate use

Feb. 25, 2004 -- No. 98

Local angle: Charlotte

$100,000 gift from Thacker estate endows sports communication internship

By ZACH HOSKINS
School of Journalism and Mass Communication

CHAPEL HILL Ė The School of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill has received a gift of $100,000 to endow an annual student internship in sports communication.

The Jim and Pat Thacker Internships in Sports Communication will provide $5,000 each year to a school junior or senior to work for 10 weeks on a summer internship with a professional sports organization.

The gift comes from the estate of the late Jim and Pat Thacker of Charlotte. Jim Thacker, a well-known ACC sportscaster in the 1960s, Ď70s and Ď80s, died in December 1992 of a stroke at age 64. His wife died in May 2003 after a brief illness.

The Thackers had no children, so Pat asked Mary Link of Charlotte, a longtime friend, to be executor of the estate. Link said the Thackers asked that the assets be used to create "some form of ACC scholarship, which I have done."

But when Don Curtis, owner of Curtis Media Group in Raleigh, mentioned to Linkís husband, Gene, that UNC-Chapel Hill had recently launched a sports communication program, Mary Link decided that a sports communication internship also would be a perfect way to honor Jim Thackerís legacy.

"I thought some of that money ought to go there, because thatís what Jim did for a living," she said. During Thackerís career, Link added, he showed great interest in helping young broadcasters. "I felt like that would be the best way to spend that money," she said, adding that it was an idea "I thought Jim would just love."

The gift counts toward the Carolina First campaign goal of $1.8 billion. Carolina First is a comprehensive multi-year, private fund-raising campaign to support Carolinaís vision of becoming the nationís leading public university.

Link worked with Dr. Richard Cole, school dean, to establish the internship. The first award will be given in 2004-05, and the first recipient will be named in April. To be eligible, students must have at least a 3.0 grade-point average.

"There has already been a lot of student interest in the internship," Cole said. "The professional experience this program offers dovetails beautifully with the training students receive in classes, particularly as part of our certificate program in sports communication."

The program admits a limited number of school students to take three courses -- "Sports Communication," "Ethical Issues and Sports Communication" and "Sports Marketing and Advertising" -- and earn a certificate, which is noted on studentsí transcripts.

Jim and Pat Thacker moved to Charlotte in 1968 from Huntington, W.Va. Jim was sports director at WBTV in Charlotte from 1968 to 1981, and he was the primary play-by-play announcer for the ACCís first television network.

Thousands of ACC fans grew up watching Thacker and commentator Billy Packer on weekly network telecasts. Thacker also worked on many other events, including golfís Masters and PGA tournaments and the Ryder Cup, for CBS, ESPN and British television. He was on a committee that selected the Carolinas Athletes of the Year.

"Jim was certainly a professional on the television games and helped make the Atlantic Coast Conference what it has become," former Carolina basketball coach Dean Smith said when Thacker died.

For more information, contact Zach Hoskins at 919-966-3323 or zhoskins@email.unc.edu.

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School contact: Speed Hallman, assistant dean for development and alumni affairs, 919-962-9467, speed_hallman@unc.edu

News Services contact: L.J. Toler, 919-962-8589, laura_toler@unc.edu