A Legend Returns
August 18, 2016
Bill Roth, longtime and legendary Voice of the Hokies, is returning to Virginia Tech, this time as a professor of practice in the Department of Communication in the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences.
For 27 years, Roth provided radio play-by-play for Virginia Tech football and men’s basketball. During that time, the National Sportswriters and Sportscasters Association named him the state’s Sportscaster of the Year an unprecedented 11 times, and he was inducted into the Virginia Sports Hall of Fame in 2013. His jubilant call when Hokies crossed the end zone – “Touchdown, Tech!” – became iconic.
Throughout his time at Virginia Tech, Roth worked for IMG, the multimedia rights holder for sports at Virginia Tech and other universities. In 2015, Roth transferred to another IMG-affiliated sports powerhouse, the UCLA Bruins. After a year there, he returned to the East Coast to help IMG launch a national radio show in North Carolina.
Yet the draw of Hokie Nation proved too great, he said.
“The future of Virginia Tech is so bright – not just on the fields and on the courts, but throughout the commonwealth, academically, culturally, and institutionally,” said Roth. “I’m very honored to join the communication department and have the opportunity to work with incredible students.”
During his earlier time at Virginia Tech, Roth increasingly took on teaching roles. He created a successful Student Broadcaster Program, mentored and coached students in the studio and at live Olympic events, and served as a frequent guest lecturer in communication classes.
“We’re delighted to have Bill Roth join us,” said Robert Denton, head of Virginia Tech’s Department of Communication. “Students have been clamoring for more courses in sports media and analytics, and we’re fortunate to have someone of his expertise and professionalism help us strengthen our academic offerings for existing and new majors. Bill will make great contributions to teaching and mentoring the next generation of sports communicators.”
At the time of Roth’s departure for UCLA, Virginia Tech’s Department of Athletics recognized his contributions by establishing the Bill Roth Student-Athlete Endowed Scholarship, which will be awarded annually to a deserving Virginia Tech student-athlete with an interest in communication or broadcast journalism.
“We’re very excited to have Bill Roth join our faculty,” said Elizabeth Spiller, dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences. “He brings a unique combination of talent, broadcasting experience, and commitment to teaching. And the national profile he’ll bring to our academic offerings in sports media and analytics will boost our already highly ranked and widely popular multimedia journalism program.”
The communication degree has been in ever-increasing demand at Virginia Tech, rising from a handful of majors at the program’s start in 1980 to nearly 800 today. More than 6,000 Virginia Tech graduates hold a communication degree; notable alumni in broadcasting at the national and international levels include Hoda Kotb ’86, a news anchor for NBC and host of the “Today” show; Atia Abawi ’03, a foreign correspondent based in the Middle East who has reported for CNN and NBC News; Pierre Thomas ’84, the senior justice correspondent for ABC News; and Molly Line ’99, a Fox News correspondent. Another graduate of the college – Brian Sullivan ’93, who holds a degree in political science – is a news anchor at CNBC.
“I’m looking forward to instilling in students the passion and energy I bring to the broadcasting booth,” Roth said. “The department’s first-rate faculty, state-of-the-art facilities, and commitment to expanding the sports media and analytics program made the opportunity irresistible. And I’m excited to be home!”
Written by Paula Byron