November 7, 2019 by Seth Rubinroit
Mike “The Avatar” Gerrity
Distance inspired the creation of Galen Central; distance inspired its final column.
Studying abroad more than 6,000 miles away from the Galen Center in Barcelona, I realized just how deeply coverage of USC basketball had eroded during the 2012 season. Bored football writers begrudgingly covered home basketball games (including one unnamed reporter who regularly strolled in at halftime), while road games garnered nothing more than AP recaps.
Sensing an opportunity, I decided to launch Galen Central as the first professional media outlet to exclusively cover USC basketball.
My first recruit was David Blu (you might remember him as David Bluthenthal when he led USC to the NCAA Elite Eight in 2001). I met with the then-Maccabi Tel Aviv star while he was in Spain to play FC Barcelona, and convinced him to be Galen Central’s USC Basketball Insider.
When I returned from my Barcelona semester, I approached three of the most talented reporters on campus—Jacob Freedman, Marshall Kelner and Max Meyer—to be the founding writers.
Blu, who had a cup of coffee with the Sacramento Kings, gave Galen Central instant credibility, while the founding writers gave the website substance.
Galen Central frequently broke stories and covered unique, entertaining angles, including Jerry Dupree’s trip to North Korea with Dennis Rodman. Galen Central’s most-read article explored why Percy Romeo Miller, better known by his former stage name Lil’ Romeo, endorsed ICDC College after playing basketball for USC.
Meyer’s “Max Analysis” and Freedman’s “Jakes’ Takes” became must-reads after games, and Kelner’s impassioned “Marshall’s Mindset” column was widely distributed and debated in the Galen Center offices.
We were often the only reporters at practice, besides Baxter Holmes of the Los Angeles Times, even though there was nothing more entertaining than a Kevin O’Neill practice (ask me or Kelner about the time Nikola Vucevic suffered a broken nose in practice, or the time James Dunleavy got poked in eye).
As the years went by, the staff grew to more than a dozen writers. The co-founders recruited new writers long after we graduated, including Sam Dodge, a talented workhorse who put thousands of miles on his car driving to away games.
But with Dodge graduating and three of the four original writers now living on the East Coast, we have decided that now is a good time to shutter Galen Central. We could have kept it going, but we could no longer ensure that we continued to meet the high standards we set for ourselves.
I have a lot of people to thank.
I am proudest that Galen Central helped launch the careers of numerous talented individuals, including (in alphabetical order):
David Blu: Versatile on and off the court, Blu has dabbled in everything from financial advising to real estate to yoga.
Evan Budrovich: Budrovich shoots, edits and produces seemingly all digital content for Campbell University.
Sam Dodge: Dodge, the hardest-working man in the business, has been published in numerous media outlets including ESPN, Los Angeles Times and Orange County Register.
Jacob Freedman: Freedman has moved into the PR world after a stint at the the LA84 Foundation.
Jas Kang: King is the Digital Media Coordinator for the LA84 Foundation.
Joey Kaufman: Kaufman is the Ohio State football beat writer for The Columbus Dispatch.
Marshall Kelner: Kelner is the play-by-play voice of the Fort Meyers Miracle, a minor league affiliate of his hometown Minnesota Twins.
Ryan MacDougall: MacDougall is working for Oracle.
Max Meyer: I have had the opportunity to hire Meyer for several internships and jobs, and he followed me to the East Coast to work for Sports Illustrated (covering gambling, naturally).
Darian Nourian: Nourian is working for KPMG.
Chris Penrose: Penrose is a titan in real estate, working for CBRE.
Seth Rubinroit: I work for NBC Sports, which allowed me to cover the 2016 and 2018 Olympics.
Saagar Sarin: Sarin works for the Minnesota Timberwolves. He may or may not have been responsible for the signing of Jordan McLaughlin.
Aaron Siegal: Siegal is creating engaging content for Bleacher Report.
Russell Simon: Simon is doing big things at the NFL.
I would also like to thank:
Josh Faskowitz, the “brains” of the operation, who is now literally studying the brain at Indiana University. He is responsible for the Galen Central name, as well as the design and many of its photos.
Steve Jarmus and Aaron Lieberman, who gave us business and sales advice that helped fund our annual trips to Vegas for the Pac-12 Basketball Tournament.
USC professors Alan Abrahamson and Jeff Felenzer, who provided valuable tips on launching and marketing a website.
PR pros Tim Tessalone and David Tuttle, who credentialed Galen Central from the beginning and provided much-needed access to the program.
Mike “The Avatar” Gerrity, as nicknamed by loyal reader Kent Hollenback, for being the enduring profile picture to all of our social media profiles. Now the director of player development and an assistant coach for the Cleveland Cavaliers, Gerrity earned a NBA championship ring coaching LeBron James in 2016.
All of the players, coaches, family members, student managers, trainers, administrative staff and more who were very generous with their time and insights.
The readers, who often shared their thoughts on social media or stopped us in the hallways of the Galen Center.
And, of course, our families, who understood why we couldn’t come home for Thanksgiving until after a USC basketball game on Wednesday night.
Thanks for reading and following!