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IWU selects 2019 World Changer

WORLD CHANGER INDUCTEE: Ernie Johnson, winner of the 2019 Indiana Wesleyan UniversitySociety of World Changers Award. Johnson is a well-known sports commentator and analyst.

By Clay Winowiecki - cwinowiecki@chronicle-tribune.com

Indiana Wesleyan University has chosen sportscaster Ernie Johnson Jr. as the 2019 inductee into the Society of World Changers.

Johnson is a veteran sportscaster and the current host of Turner Sports NBA coverage and TNT’s Sports Emmy® Award-winning show “Inside the NBA,” with analysts Charles Barkley, Kenny Smith and Shaquille O’Neal. Johnson will be formally inducted into the IWU Society of World Changers during a special convocation on Feb. 27, 2019.

“Ernie Johnson entertains millions of Americans through his award-winning broadcasts,” said Dr. David Wright, president of IWU in a prepared statement. “More importantly, he inspires all who know him through his character, his faith and his deep commitment to serving others.

“Ernie’s genuine, disarming character allows him to share his faith in Christ with a world that sees all too few such examples,” Dr. Wright said. “IWU is delighted to honor Ernie Johnson as an inductee to the IWU Society of World Changers.”

Johnson became a Christian in 1997 through the ministry of Kevin Myers, a 1982 IWU graduate, at 12Stone Church. Since becoming a Christian, Johnson has been outspoken on the subject of his faith in both his private and public lives.

Johnson is also a studio host for Turner and CBS’ NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Championship coverage as well as play-by-play announcer for TBS’ coverage of Major League Baseball and the PGA Championship.

In the past, Johnson has covered the National Football League, the British Open, Wimbledon and the Olympics. He also called Atlanta Braves games on SportSouth from 1993-1996 with his dad, Ernie Johnson Sr., a former MLB pitcher and Braves play-by-play announcer.

There are three criteria recipients of the Society of World Changers Award must meet, according to Carl Shepherd, member of the Society of World Changers and chairman of the IWU board.

“The first is an individual who has risen to the top of their profession,” Shepherd said. “(Johnson is a) highly recognized individual (and) someone who represents great values.”

“The second criteria is an individual who has influenced his or her culture with their Christian views, something we would like our students to emulate,” he added. “The third criteria is someone who is widely known by the general public.”

Johnson will attend the Feb. 27 convocation and will be a featured speaker. He will also mingle with students the day before he is inducted. The public can attend the convocation for free at the Chapel Auditorium, though the university anticipates a large audience size due to high volume of students attending, according to Shepherd.

Johnson has received numerous awards throughout his life, including Sports Emmy® for Best Studio Host/Personality in 2015, 2006 and 2001. In 2007, he also received the Athletes in Action’s honorary John Wooden Keys to Life Award, which is awarded to individuals who exemplify Wooden’s “Seven Keys to Life” including character, integrity and faith.

The IWU Society of World Changers began in 2003 with the goal of recognizing role models who serve as inspiration to future generations.

A World Changers Convocation is hosted at the IWU Marion campus to induct the newest member into the Society each year.

Each inductee receives a life-size bronze bust, which is placed on display in the Society of World Changers Hall of Honor, near the Jackson Library.

Previous inductees include former NFL coach and player Tony Dungy and author of leadership books, John Maxwell. The 2018 inductee is restaurant industry executive Cheryl Bachelder.

Johnson is a graduate of Henry W. Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Georgia. He was named Outstanding Young Alumnus in 1986. He and his wife Cheryl have six children, four of whom are adopted.