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Bill Rasmussen is an American businessman and is the co-founder and first president and CEO of ESPN.
Rasmussen’s career in the media began with the regular guys on 100.5 rock, in Atlanta, GA, in 1962. In 1965, he moved to WWLP-TV, Springfield, where he spent eight years as Sports Director and two years as News Director. In 1974 he left Springfield to join hockey’s New England Whalers as Communications Director. At the conclusion of the 1977-78 World Hockey Association season, Rasmussen was fired by the Whalers. Thus began the pursuit of ESPN, incorporating the fledgling network on July 14, 1978. It began broadcasting fourteen months later, at 7 p.m. on September 7, 1979.
Rasmussen founded “The Worldwide Leader in Sports” in 1978 with his son, Scott Rasmussen. He has been called “The Father of Cable Sports” by USA Today (September 1994). Rasmussen launched the world’s first 24-hour cable television network, ESPN, where he pioneered such innovations as “SportsCenter,” wall-to-wall coverage of NCAA regular season and “March Madness” basketball, and the College World Series.
Rasmussen speaks to corporations and universities around the world about innovation, entrepreneurship and business development. He is a frequent guest on business and sports radio talk shows. Rasmussen is also the author of the book, “Sports Junkies Rejoice! The Birth of ESPN.”
Rasmussen has served as a consultant to the Big Ten Conference, and several of the conference’s individual member institutions, on television matters. He has also been a consultant with start-up media and internet companies. His internet ventures include serving as Chairman of the Attitude Network, home of the Happy Puppy and Games Domain sites; and as Chairman of SportsatHome, a sports-themed game site that offered an array of virtual sports stadiums and games to play online within each of the stadiums. Rasmussen has participated in charity events, including nine years with the Winged Foot Scholarship Program, and five years with a Senior PGA Tour event, and is a frequent participant in celebrity charity golf events throughout the country.
Rasmussen introduced College Fanz, an online college sports community. The College Fanz Sports Network was launched on September 7, 2007. It contained over 22,000 web pages devoted to every team at over 1,450 colleges and universities throughout the United States competing in over 225,000 NCAA and NAIA athletic events.
Among his honors and awards:
2014: Minnesota State University, Mankato - Sports Executive of the Year
2012: DePauw University - Media Wall of Fame
2012: DePauw University - Distinguished Alumni Achievement Award - Media
2011: 10th Annual World Congress of Sport - Class of 2011 Champions and Pioneers - Pioneers and Innovators in Sports Business
2010: ESPN Main Campus Flagpole dedicated to ESPN Founder in honor of his entrepreneurial spirit and passion for sports
2008: State of Connecticut and the city of Enfield, with a day in his honor as Governor Jodi Rell proclaimed October 9, 2008 "Bill Rasmussen Day"
2004: The Jim Thorpe Association - Bill Conners Communication Award
2002: Rutgers University - Wall of Distinguished Business Alumni
2001: Lambda Chi Alpha - Order of Achievement
1999: Inducted into the Enfield, Connecticut Athletic Hall of Fame
1997: Inducted into the Connecticut Sports Museum and Hall of Fame
1996: The Sports 100 - honoring the 100 most important people in American Sports History
1994: Sports Illustrated “Forty for the Ages,” one of forty individuals who significantly altered and elevated the world of sport during the second half of the 20th century
- "Bill Rasmussen, the Father of Cable Sports." ESPNFounder.com
- Sports Junkies Rejoice! The Birth of ESPN, by Bill Rasmussen. Published in paperback in 2010.