Fred Cowgill is WLKY-32’s sports director and he has been covering Louisville sports for 26 years. He’s witnessed 25 Kentucky Derbys, eight Breeders Cups, two PGA Championships and 13 Final Fours, including the most recent one, in New Orleans. So how did he rate that UofL–UK basketball game?
“It was one of the most special moments of my life, and the biggest story of my career,” Cowgill said. “It was history in the making and we [WLKY’s Rick Van Hoose and the sports crew] got to be a part of it. The feeling was so special, it was indescribable.”
Cowgill said his favorite moment of the tournament occurred right before the National Semifinal game, “when I started looking around at a crowd of 75,000 with the majority being Cards and Cats fans.”
He thought that the Cardinals played UK as well as anybody.
“It was neat because passions were put aside and all we saw was really great basketball,” Cowgill said. “The right team won, but even in defeat, the Cardinals came away with their heads held high.”
He felt as if Kentucky was the best team in the tournament “and it showed.” “The Cats met every challenge that they had faced, almost all season,” Cowgill said. “It will go down as one of the best teams in Kentucky history.”
Cowgill was also favorably impressed with UK coach John Calipari and his teaching methods, this season.
“I thought he did an incredible job,” Cowgill said. “What I like is his ultimate measure of success for himself, is the quality of men and players he produces, not the number of championships.”
Cowgill believes that this Final Four will help both UK and U of L in the long run. “The preseason rankings are out and both are in the top five,” Cowgill said. “You get the feeling this will be a great building block for the future of both programs.”
As for the championship game, Cowgill likened it to a UK home game. “Of the 75,000 fans [in attendance], I bet 50,000 were Kentucky fans,” Cowgill said. “It felt like a coronation ceremony and in the end, that is exactly what it was.”
Covering one of the most memorable Final Four’s in Louisville’s and Kentucky’s histories is a long way from the humble origins of Fred Cowgill, who was born in Johnson City, NY, a town three hours northwest of New York City, some 54 years ago.
Cowgill attributes much of who he is today to his father, Ralph Cowgill. Cowgill said his morals, beliefs and passions are all largely due to his dad. Talking about sports with his dad is where he first got the idea of becoming a sports broadcaster.
"The Yankee games, the Mets game, the Giants games . . . we attended. It was just natural to talk about sports,” said Cowgill.
“It became something of a dream, but it was such a big dream, I never thought I could achieve it. So I was going to do radio. And through a variety of events in my life, doors opened in my life that were clearly orchestrated by the ‘big guy upstairs,’ to where suddenly, that dream became a reality.”
Cowgill received two bachelor’s degrees, in broadcasting and management, from the University of Tennessee and his master’s in broadcast journalism, from Boston University. He has lived and worked in Atlanta, Ga., and Rochester, Ny., before moving to Louisville, in 1986.