Charles Tucker ’56 has been responsible for handing out a lot of athletic awards through the years. Now, one of those awards bears his name. Charles, known professionally as “Mickey Charles,” is founder, CEO, and president of The Sports Network, a Hatboro, Pa.-based wire-service providing sports information in real time.
Nearly 30 years ago, Tucker and The Sports Network (TSN) established the FCS awards by presenting the Walter Payton Award, given to the most outstanding player in the Football Championship Subdivision (FCS), known formerly as Division I-A and I-AA. The “Payton” is generally acknowledged to be the second most prestigious award in college football, following only The Heisman Trophy which is given to the most outstanding player in all of college football.
Through the years, TSN added the Eddie Robinson Award, given annually for FCS coach of the year, the Buck Buchanan Award for FCS defensive player of the year, and the Jerry Rice Award for FSC freshman of the year. All afforded smaller colleges and universities opportunities to expose their talented football players and coaches to a larger network. Past winners of these awards include National Football League standouts such as Tony Romo, Brian Westbrook, Jared Allen, Dexter Coakley, and many others.
On Dec. 15 in a nationally televised awards banquet in Philadelphia, South Dakota State University football running back Zach Zenner received the inaugural Mickey Charles Award for the most outstanding FCS student/athlete.
Created in secret by Tucker’s TSN colleagues, the award created a stir when they announced it several weeks prior to the awards ceremony, resulting in a “deluge of congratulatory and complimentary messages from New York to London, Philadelphia to Paris, Detroit to Macau, Las Vegas to Rome,” said TSN Director of Operations Phil Sokol.
“All were indicative and reflective of Mickey’s standing in so many areas, not just sports.”
Kalamazoo College Provost Michael A. McDonald said “the FCS Mickey Charles Award for outstanding academic achievement is aptly named for a great student athlete—Kalamazoo College’s Charles Tucker (a.k.a. Mickey Charles), class of 1956. On the basketball court and in the classroom, his hard work and achievements did credit to higher education, the liberal arts, and Kalamazoo College. We at K are rightly proud of one of our ‘favorite sons.’”
K Professor of Physical Education, Emeritus, and retired Athletic Director Rolla Anderson said “My sincerest congratulations go out to “Charlie,” as he was affectionately called by his basketball coach and mentor (and my former colleague), the late Ray Steffen. I have so many fond memories of Charlie’s time at Kalamazoo College and his visits over the years. Congratulations, my friend.”
Born and reared in Bronx, N.Y., Tucker, a.k.a. Mickey Charles, launched The Sports Network from his kitchen table nearly 30 years ago. Since then, TSN has become the world’s largest independently owned supplier of sports scores and information, with more than 2,000 outlets globally. Today TSN is expanding geographically (into China, India, Malaysia, Thailand, Algeria, among others) and technologically (complementing its saturation of websites by expanding to mobile devices). It provides news, weather, injury reports, instant scores, Gamecasts, photography, fantasy coverage data, and much more.
Tucker transferred to Kalamazoo College from Columbia University and played for two seasons on the Hornet basketball team. He was named team captain his senior season of 1956, leading that squad to a 14-9 record and a second-place finish in the MIAA conference. He earned his law degree (Brooklyn Law School) and began a career as a sports columnist for several newspapers and magazines (including the Philadelphia Inquirer), as a television sports talk-show host (for CBS and later ESPN), as a college English professor (St. Joseph College in Philadelphia) and then, in 1983, as the founder of a sports scores telephone service that evolved into TSN. He is a popular public speaker who was once offered a contract as an opening-act stand-up comedian.
Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell said “Mickey Charles is one of our sports-crazed nation’s most astute experts. But he is much, much more than that. He is an incredibly caring person who has done so much to help so many.”
National Hockey League Commissioner Gary Bettman congratulated Mickey on the creation of the award that will bear his name “and will honor an FCS student’s successful combination of athletic achievement and academic excellence. A disruptor long before that term became trendy, Mickey is a scholar when it comes to sports business and a life-long friend of innovation. Mickey has a personality as big as the sports world and a heart that’s even bigger; it is a delight to see him recognized for decades of entrepreneurship, his devotion to education and his relentlessly positive approach to life.”