Will Hobson and Steven Rich of The Washington Post took first place in the Associated Press Sports Editors 2015 contest in Investigative Reporting.

Through Freedom of Information Act requests and review of thousands of pages of documents, the reporters’ winning entry exposed instances of extravagant spending within some of the nation’s largest athletic departments at a time when tuition costs are soaring and academic departments are facing unprecedented budgetary shortfalls.

Hobson and Rich 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-Charlotte Hotel in Charlotte, N.C.

Hobson and Rich garnered 50 points and one first-place vote in the final balloting to best runners-up Teri Thompson, Mary Papenfuss, Nathaniel Vinton, Christian Red and Michael O’Keeffe of the New York Daily News (46 points, three first-place votes). Walt Bogdanich, Joe Drape, James Glanz, Jacqueline Williams and Agustin Armendariz of The New York Times finished third with 44 points and one first-place vote.

Sports editors submitted a total of 17 Investigative 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, nine points for second and so on down to one point for a 10th­-place vote. 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.

The Investigative category recognizes the best single article or best series of articles displaying investigative sports journalism. Judging is based on the entry’s enterprise, initiative, documentation, resourcefulness and original reporting in uncovering newsworthy and significant facts and developments that otherwise might not have been reported. Impact and aftermath of the work are considered.

The Top 10 is listed below with links to writers’ Twitter pages, APSE member websites and winning entries.


  1. Will Hobson and Steven Rich, The Washington Post, 50 points, 1 first-place vote

Playing in the red

Why students foot the bill for college sports, and how some are fighting back

College sports’ fastest-rising expense: Paying coaches not to work

The latest extravagances in the college sports arms race? Laser tag and mini golf

As college sports revenues spike, coaches aren’t only ones cashing in


  1. Teri Thompson, Mary Papenfuss, Nathaniel Vinton, Christian Red and Michael O’Keeffe, New York Daily News, 46 points, 3 first-place votes

IRS still after former U.S. soccer bigwig Chuck Blazer over millions in unpaid taxes  

Disgraced ex-soccer bigwig Chuck Blazer has FIFA president Sepp Blatter in fear of U.S. prosecution

Informant Chuck Blazer is key player in FIFA arrest scandal

FIFA VP Jack Warner’s ticket-scalping son sang to federal investigators

Departing Sepp Blatter marked man in FIFA investigation built around Chuck Blazer

FIFA informant Chuck Blazer admitted to taking bribes for World Cup bids

King of Thieves! Called Robin Hood by some, Jack Warner’s corruption & abuse of power in FIFA ran deep

EXCLUSIVE: New Jersey sports marketing company ISM entangled in FIFA bribery, kickback scandal

Sepp Blatter’s downfall: Tracking the last 5 years of shameful wheelings and dealings at FIFA

Wise Guys: Jeffrey Webb and Enrique Sanz took over CONCACAF with same Mafia ways as predecessors

FIFA scandal widens as U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch charges 16 more soccer official

U.S. Soccer prez Sunil Gulati wades through shock of corruption scandal to pave new road for world’s game


  1. Walt Bogdanich, Joe Drape, James Glanz, Jacqueline Williams and Agustin Armendariz, The New York Times, 44 points, 1 first-place vote

Cash Drops and Keystrokes: The Dark Reality of Sports Betting and Daily Fantasy Games

Finding ‘Who’ and ‘Where’ Within the Sports Cyber-Betting Universe

The Offshore Game of Online Sports Betting

DraftKings Leaves Door Unlocked for Barred Fantasy Sports Players

For Addicts, Fantasy Sites Can Lead to Ruinous Path

Scandal Erupts in Unregulated World of Fantasy Sports

In Fantasy Sports, Signs of Insiders’ Edge

DraftKings Cuts Its Ties with Top Poker Series

17 People In Three States Are Held In Online Gambling Ring

Attorney General Tells DraftKings and FanDuel to Stop Taking Entries in New York

Massachusetts Attorney General Proposes Fantasy Sports Regulations

Fantasy Sports Site Closes Digital Loophole Ahead Of Hearing

N.F.L.’s Deal Over Data Blurs A Line On Gambling


  1. Josh Liebeskind and Mike Baker, The Seattle Times, 40 points, 1 first-place vote

Bellevue High’s football success aided by ‘diploma mill’

Bellevue football coaches wooed middle-school athletes

‘You think you scaring me?’: Videos show controversial Bellevue football trainer

Bellevue School District requests state probe of football program


  1. Don Van Natta Jr. and Seth Wickersham, ESPN.com, 39 points

Spygate to Deflategate: Inside what split the NFL and Patriots apart


T6. Brian Davis, American-Statesman (Austin), 26 points

UT audit finds Longhorns staff used prime seats to play favorites, help ticket brokers

Complementary material:

Texas officials email season ticket holders about investigation

Unpopular Texas football ticket resale policy will continue


T6. Rachel Axon, Erik Brady, Steve Berkowitz and George Schroeder, USA TODAY Sports, 26 points

Did Penn State really face the death penalty?


  1. Scott M. Reid, Orange County Register, 24 points

Matt Leinart’s for-profit flag football league has gained access to fields, saved money by registering as a non-profit

Matt Leinart Flag Football League to pay Costa Mesa nearly $25,000 in back field rental fees

Matt Leinart Flag Football League will repay Irvine more than $60,000

Matt Leinart Flag Football League received almost $160,000 in improperly reduced field rental fees


  1. Bob Hohler, The Boston Globe, 20 points

Questions linger over Tom Brady’s relationship with ‘body coach’


  1. Paul Pringle and Nathan Fenno, Los Angeles Times, 15 points

Pat Haden has his hands full at USC, and it’s not his only job