Despite describing his college football career as a “failure,” Jimmy Pitaro ’91 has had a lot of wins in the world of sports. He insists, however, that he’s never lost; instead he’s learned.
“I had a coach who said you either win or you learn,” said Pitaro, who played wide receiver for Big Red Football, graduated from the College of Human Ecology and now, as chairman of ESPN, leads the network’s live sports programming, as well as sports news and original and non-scripted sports-related content, for the Walt Disney Company’s cable channels, ESPN+ and ABC. “And I learned more from failure in college than I did success in high school,” Pitaro told an audience of current Cornell athletes during a visit back to campus on Nov. 9.
Coming from Edgemont High School in Scarsdale, NY, Pitaro pursued the sport and showed enough prowess to catch the attention of multiple Ivy League programs. He was recruited in his junior year by Cornell coaching legend Pete Noyes, and “fell in love with the coaches and campus,” Pitaro recounts.