Beyond Manti Te’o: A Conversation with Jeremy Schaap


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Although Jeremy Schaap most recently received attention for his interview with Manti Te’o, he has also covered events like the World Cup and the Olympics, as well as in-depth investigative sports journalism pieces.

“I’ve covered the Olympics, the World Cup, the Superbowl, even Boxing Championship fights,” Jeremy Schaap says, his voice casual and easily recognizable from ESPN’s E60, Sports Center, and Outside the Lines.

Schaap attended Staples for half of his junior year and his senior year and graduated class of ’87. He has most recently received attention for his interview with Notre Dame football player Manti Te’o. He also reports for various shows, hosts radio programs, and holds varied sports reporting roles within ESPN.

Schaap’s father was a journalist, a family connection that fostered a career. “I grew up in the business. I was always interested,” Schaap said.  At Staples, between trips to the Sherwood Diner and beach, he took a television production class, a prelude to his reporting career today.

Schaap values his work as a journalist, a job that has spanned 25 years. “It gives me the opportunity to work with talented people and stay on top of the news.”

Over the course of countless broadcasts and reports, Schaap witnessed changes within the sports industry.

The athletes themselves train more intensely and are bigger and faster, Schaap said. On the high school level, athletes have become more specialized and focused on college scholarships, a factor that Schaap doesn’t see as a complete positive.

“It burns as many athletes out as it helps to develop higher skills,” he said.

Sports journalism too has morphed throughout his career. “Sports coverage has exploded,” Schaap said. “The appetite for it seems insatiable.”

Schaap’s Jan. 18 interview with Te’o generated its fair share of news, with follow-up articles analyzing the interview and responses spreading online. Due to the odd nature of the story, Schaap was unsurprised by the hype. “The story is just so bizarre,” he said.

Schaap conducted the interview, which Te’o requested to be off camera, with the intention to hear out the athlete’s account. “The big question is what happened,” Schaap said. “No one knew what happened, so I just wanted to establish a timeline.”

In the interview, Te’o claimed that he was not involved in the hoax and that he was genuinely duped. Schaap found Te’o’s account credible. “I’ve been asked a lot whether I found the story believable,” he said. “I do. There haven’t been any inconsistencies that [Te’o] hasn’t explained.”

However, with the dead girlfriend ruckus simmering down, Schaap has refocused on more in-depth stories. Schaap feels that there is room for meatier sports stories that cover business, team deals, and performance enhancing drugs. Currently, Schaap is working on a piece about the rivalry between the United States and Mexico over soccer players for E60, a weekly investigative journalism show on ESPN.

In the past, Schaap has focused on similarly nuanced and multi-dimensional stories, including pieces about the rape of South African lesbian soccer players, the torture of Bahraini soccer players, and high school athletes in the United States without sufficient medical insurance.

“These stories are not widely covered,” Schaap said. “You just hope you can open people’s eyes to stories they wouldn’t otherwise see.”