James Pilcher of the Cincinnati Enquirer won first place in the Associated Press Sports Editors 2015 contest in explanatory writing for the 75-175,000 circulation category.

Pilcher won for The Pete Rose Ban: How the Investigation Unfolded. Pilcher will be presented a first-place plaque at the 2016 APSE banquet. The banquet and awards dinner concludes the APSE Conference June 22-25 at The Omni in Charlotte, N.C.

Pilcher collected two of the six first-place votes and finished with 54 points. The Buffalo News took second and third place in the category. Tyler Dunne finished second with 51 points, beating out colleague Tim Graham, who finished with 41.

Sports editors in the 75-175,000 category submitted 46 entries. The contest is open to APSE members. Click here to join.

Contest chair Tommy Deas numbered each entry, assuring they had been stripped of headlines, graphics, bylines and any other element that would identify the writer or news organization.

In late February and early March, preliminary judges at the APSE Winter Conference at Poynter Institute in St. Petersburg, Fla., selected a top 10, with each judge ranking the entries in order from 1 to 10 separately on a secret ballot. Entries were given 10 points for a first-­place vote, 9 points for second and 8 points for third place, and so on. The final 10 were given to a second judging group, which ranked the entries 1-10 in the same fashion. The winner and final rankings are determined by tallying the ballots.

Explanatory stories include trends, issues and original ideas. They shed new light on issues and personalities in the news. These stories went beyond the “yesterday” of the breaking news story and are more than a feature.

The top 10 are listed below with links to writers’ Twitter pages, APSE member websites and winning entries:


  1. James Pilcher, Cincinnati Enquirer, two first-place votes, 54 points

The Pete Rose Ban: How the Investigation Unfolded


  1. Tyler Dunne, The Buffalo News, two first-place votes, 51 points

Brains under pressure: Concussion crisis continues to haunt the NFL


  1. Tim Graham, The Buffalo News, 41 points

Is boxing down for the count?


  1. Geoff Baker, The Seattle Times, two first-place votes, 39 points
    Fans still reeling from Super Bowl ticket nightmare      


  1. Dana Hunsinger Benbow, Indianapolis Star, 33 points

Why has number of women college coaches plummeted since Title IX?


T6. Ross Dellenger and Scott Rabalais, The Advocate (Baton Rouge, La.), 27 points

College baseball’s new balls could be just the start of changes aimed to bring offense back to the game              


T6. Michael Phillips, Richmond (Va.) Times-Dispatch, 27 points

Redskins return amid renewed concerns about economic performance


T8. Justin Barney, Florida Times-Union (Jacksonville), 20 points

How non-scholarship football at Jacksonville University went awry


T8. Michael Cohen, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 20 points

Dom Capers simplifies defensive playbook, amps up speed


  1. Tim Sullivan, The Courier-Journal (Louisville, Ky.), 18 points

Confessions of a college hoops ‘slimeball’