Roone Arledge (July 8, 1931 – December 5, 2002) was an American sports broadcasting pioneer who was chairman of ABC News from 1977 until several years before his death, and a key part of the company's rise to competition with the two other main television networks, NBC and CBS, in the '60s, '70s, and '80s.
Arledge was born the son of a North Carolina lawyer who moved to New York City in search of opportunity. He grew up a smart but sheltered upper middle class kid. Arledge attended Wellington C. Mepham High School on Long Island where he wrestled, and played baseball. Upon graduation, he decided that sportswriting was what he wanted to do in life, and applied to Columbia University.
There, he discovered that Columbia's journalism program was a graduate program, not an undergraduate one. Even so, Arledge liked what he saw and enrolled in a liberal-arts program. He also served as President of the Omega Chapter of the fraternity of Phi Gamma Delta. His classmates included Max Frankel, who would eventually win a Pulitzer Prize in 1973 for his work as editorial page editor of the New York Times; Larry Grossman, who became president of the Public Broadcasting System in 1976 and later went on to head NBC News; and Richard Wald, another president of NBC News that Arledge would later persuade to come over to ABC News as a senior vice-president.