By Mark Boshnack
The Daily Star
---- — Award-winning ESPN correspondent Sal Paolantonio has been chosen to deliver the May 18 commencement address at the State University of New York at Oneonta, his alma mater.
The longtime broadcaster also will receive an honorary doctorate of humane letters from the State University of New York Board of Trustees during the college’s 124th commencement, the college said Friday.
Paolantonio, who covers NFL football on the sports channel, graduated from SUNY Oneonta in 1977 and has been a journalist working in newspapers, magazines, television and radio for 30 years. He presented the commencement address in 2000, but this is the first honorary degree he has received from the college, he said Friday.
“I was totally floored and honored,” he said about receiving the honorary degree. “The last one they gave was to an astronaut ( Ronald J. Garan Jr. in 2010) and I was a guy on T.V. talking about football.”
When he came to the college in 1974, “I was a kid from Long Island (Stewart Manor) who came upstate for the first time,” he said. “I really found my way at the Oneonta campus. I had great professors.”
Paolantonio said they included Steve Rubin, James Capo, Paul Italia, the late Jay Pawa, and many others “who saw some potential and dragged it out of me.”
“It is exciting to welcome Sal Paolantonio back to our campus, SUNY Oneonta President Nancy Kleniewski said in a media release. “Through the years, he has established a special bond with the college, especially our students, who are inspired by his personal story, enthusiasm and encouragement. We are delighted that Sal will join us in honoring and congratulating this year’s graduates.”
Paolantonio spoke at the college’s Student Research and Creative Activity Day last April, recounting his introduction to SUNY Oneonta as a student and sharing his appreciation for the role the college played in preparing him for a career as a media professional.
Paolantonio graduated, cum laude from the college, earning a bachelor’s degree in history, with a minor in English literature, in just three years.
While at the college, he was a resident adviser and a staff member of both WONY, the campus radio station, and The State Times, the student newspaper.  Paolantonio was named one of the top 100 graduates in the school’s history for the SUNY Oneonta centennial celebration in 1989.
In his journalism career, Paolantonio has covered 20 Super Bowls, Wimbledon, three national political conventions and the 1985 famine in Africa. Among his many honors are two Associated Press awards for reporting and six sports Emmys.
At ESPN, Paolantonio now covers the NFL for “SportsCenter” and “Sunday NFL Countdown” and hosts the “NFL Matchup” show. He is the author of three best-selling books, including “How Football Explains America.” He is a member of the selection committee for the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio.
Paolantonio is a retired Navy lieutenant and married to Lynn (McGraw) Paolantonio, SUNY Oneonta Class of ‘78. They have three grown daughters.