UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — For four decades Marty Aronoff has traveled the United States, covering hundreds of thousands of miles every year, working as a sports statistician at events televised by every major broadcast network.
At 81, he’s a beloved pioneer, having largely created the role of sports statistician at the national level. His behind-the-scenes work unearths notes and statistics that sports broadcasters share on air to better inform fans and viewers. Aronoff brings the same energy and enthusiasm to the job every night — whether he’s in New York City, Seattle, or his hometown of Washington, D.C.
Still, he has a soft spot for Happy Valley and his alma mater.
“Penn State has been, for 60 years, an important part of my life,” Aronoff said. “It’s family for me.”
Aronoff, who earned his bachelor’s degree in 1960, makes regular visits to campus to meet with students in the Donald P. Bellisario College of Communications. In addition, the John and Marty Aronoff Trustee Scholarship, named for his late son in 2010, has helped 25 students with scholarship support since its inception.
“It’s one thing to write a check and share your time, but the most gratifying thing is what it leads to for the students,” he said. “Being able to help in some way makes me so proud.”
Aronoff recently committed to an even greater and more lasting impact on Penn State students with two gifts — one creating a fund to enable student travel and another supporting establishment of an audio studio in the Donald P. Bellisario Media Center.
Through these two gifts, both endowed in his and his son’s names, Aronoff is opening doors for students who want to follow in his footsteps, said Dean Marie Hardin.
“Marty has had a remarkable impact in the industry, inspiring many young sports journalists. These gifts will allow them to pursue their dreams with access to the travel and facilities they need,” said Hardin.
The travel fund will enhance the educational experiences and professional marketability of sports journalism students by enabling them to cover Penn State and national events in person. In the past year, those students traveled nearly 50,000 miles covering events in 17 states and three countries. That includes Penn State varsity sports competitions, the NFL Draft and reporting on longform stories from international locations.
The broadcast news studio will be for students making the first step from print to broadcast journalism. Students will use studio to conduct and edit interviews, and then combine those stories into packages in a radio station setting. Stories will then be assembled into daily radio newscasts, with students as part of a rotation serving as reporters, anchors and producers for those newscasts — which air on CommRadio, the internet-based radio station housed in the Bellisario College.
The studio will be part of the Bellisario Media Center, which is being created as part of a renovation of Willard Building on the University Park campus. The oldest portion of the building, built in 1949, is being transformed into a space for students and faculty to collaborate, use the latest technology and engage in ground-breaking storytelling. The center will be the hub for student media and the new home, together with Carnegie Building, of the Bellisario College.
Aronoff’s gifts will advance "A Greater Penn State for 21st Century Excellence," a focused campaign that seeks to elevate Penn State’s position as a leading public university in a world defined by rapid change and global connections. With the support of alumni and friends, “A Greater Penn State” seeks to fulfill the three key imperatives of a 21st-century public university: keeping the doors to higher education open to hard-working students regardless of financial well-being; creating transformative experiences that go beyond the classroom; and impacting the world by fueling discovery, innovation and entrepreneurship. To learn more about “A Greater Penn State for 21st Century Excellence,” visit greaterpennstate.psu.edu.