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The Communicator


Fellow alumni, friends establish award in honor of late friend

The late Rick Starr stands along in the bleachers at Beaver Stadium

The best stories are about people — something Penn State alumnus Rick Starr knew well, and practiced regularly, during his career.

From Penn State to Pittsburgh and beyond, the award-winning sports journalist’s work focused less on the games themselves and more on the communal, human and social aspect of athletic competitions.

Starr, who earned his journalism degree in 1975, worked in western Pennsylvania and was the longtime editor of the Valley News Dispatch in Tarentum. He covered the Pittsburgh Steelers for 19 years, chronicling the eras of two Hall of Fame coaches, Chuck Noll and Bill Cowher. Along with Super Bowls and high-profile pros, the multitalented Starr also focused on local and high school sports.

At Penn State, Starr was sports editor of The Daily Collegian and drew praise for his coverage of John Cappelletti’s 1973 Heisman Trophy speech when Cappelletti dedicated the award to his brother, Joey.

Starr died in May 2017 at age 64. In his honor, Starr’s friends and fellow alumni, Cathy and Bob Buday, recently established the Rick Starr Award for Human-Centered Sports Journalism in the Donald P. Bellisario College of Communications. Cathy graduated with her journalism degree from the University in 1976. Bob earned his communications studies degree in 1977.

Starr introduced the Budays as undergraduates, and they all became part of a large, tight-knit group of student journalists whose friendship has continued to this day. Cathy and Bob eventually married — albeit 24 years after they were introduced. They started dating in 1996 and were married two years later. They have six children, five from their first marriages and one together, all of whom had the opportunity to meet Starr before he died.

With the Rick Starr Award for Human-Centered Sports Journalism, the Budays hope to encourage Penn State students majoring in communications to follow Starr’s example. More information about Starr and the award may be found online.

Gifts to the award can be made online, or by downloading a form and mailing a check. For more information, call Penn State’s Office of Annual Giving at 814-863-3538.

Students who believe they might be eligible for the award should contact Janet Klinefelter, jqk9@psu.edu, in the Bellisario College.

The Rick Starr Award for Human-Centered Sports Journalism in the Donald P. Bellisario College of Communications 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.