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ESPN Team To Accept Award At Penn State For Groundbreaking Youth Sports Coverage

ESPN journalists Mark Fainaru-Wada and Mike Kessler will visit Penn State this week to receive a prestigious honor for their work investigating and breaking a series of stories about a youth track coach who allegedly molested dozens across a nearly 40-year period.

At 7 p.m. on Tuesday, April 12, the pair will visit Penn State’s Foster Auditorium to officially accept the Award for Excellence in Coverage of Youth Sports, presented by Penn State’s John Curley Center for Sports Journalism. Fainaru-Wada and Kessler will also visit classes throughout the week to discuss their work.

“We’re proud to honor the ESPN team, who have done the kind of work that shows why smart, hard-nosed journalism on all platforms is so important,” said John Affleck, director of the Curley Center.

The duo’s investigation follows Conrad Mainwaring, who allegedly molested dozens of boys and young men for decades until his 2021 arrest. Once they received the initial tip for the story, they found him still coaching after allegedly abusing more than 50 people. Mainwaring is currently facing more than a dozen charges and has pleaded not guilty.

In August 2019, Fainaru-Wada and Kessler released a major piece about the investigation while also interviewing victims until 2020. They then covered Mainwairing’s arrest in 2021 and are currently projecting civil lawsuits and criminal cases against the coach’s numerous former employers.

Hundreds of accusers, ranging in age from 22 to 59, were interviewed by ESPN. Moreover, every effort was made to comply with each and every story, including meeting with family members, friends, and spouses who had confided in them over the years. The team even reviewed hundreds of letters, journals, photos, official documents, and news articles to complete the investigation.

Fainaru-Wada is a member of ESPN’s investigative unit, an award-winning documentarian, and the co-author of two New York Times best-sellers. Kessler, a longtime reporter and investigator, hosts the podcast “The Running Man” through which he explains the Mainwaring story, in addition to a television version of the investigation, which won an Emmy for Outstanding Sports Journalism.

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About the Author

Evan Halfen

Evan Halfen is a first-year student at Penn State from Newark, Delaware and is studying broadcast journalism. Evan loves all things Penn State, tailgating, being loud, just about any beach, and his puppies, Butterscotch and Wentzy.

Follow him on the 'gram: @e.evan.halfen.n

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