The South Dakota Sports Hall of Fame is dedicated to the preservation, documentation and display of South Dakota's sports history.

Al Neuharth - Inducted 2009

Born a poor country boy in South Dakota in 1924, Neuharth became a self-made multimillionaire who built the nation's largest newspaper company (Gannett) and started the nation's most widely read newspaper (USA Today). He is an Alpena High and University of South Dakota grad. Neuharth's start in journalism involved sports, and much of the success of USA Today is because of its innovative sports section. At age 11, he took his first job as a newspaper carrier, and later as a youth worked in the composing room at the weekly Alpena Journal. He served as a combat infantryman in World War II and was awarded the Bronze Star. At USD, Neuharth was the sports editor and then editor of the student newspaper, the Volante. After graduating in 1950, he joined The Associated Press in Sioux Falls as a reporter. In 1952, Neuharth and a friend launched a statewide weekly called SoDak Sports. Though the publication was popular with readers, the tabloid, printed on peach newsprint, went belly up in less than two years. In 1954, broke and in debt, Neuharth got a job as a reporter at the Miami Herald. In seven years there he advanced to assistant managing editor. In 1960, he was named assistant executive editor at the Detroit Free Press. In 1963, he joined Gannett as general manager of its two Rochester, N.Y., newspapers. He became Gannett's president and chief operating officer in 1970. In 1982 he launched USA Today. Since his "retirement" from Gannett in 1989, he has been an author, speaker, columnist and world traveler. He "retired a second time" on June 1, 1997, as chairman of one of the nation's largest private charitable foundations, The Freedom Forum, which he founded in 1991. In 1995, he founded the Freedom Forum's Newseum. He has been chairman and president of the Newspaper Association of America. He was named the most influential person in print media for the 1980s by the Washington Journalism Review. He has received numerous awards, including the Horatio Alger Award in 1975.

« Back to Contributors