Born and raised in New York City, Walter Gantz earned his undergraduate degree at Brooklyn College. After spending two years in India with the Peace Corps, Gantz returned to school and earned his MA at the University of Michigan and his PhD at Michigan State. He began his faculty career at SUNY-Buffalo where, in addition to teaching in the Department of Communication, he served as coach for their varsity cross-country and track teams. Gantz joined the faculty at IU in 1979 and has been chair (of the Department of Telecommunications, now Communication Science) since 1997. Over the years, Gantz has taught courses focusing on media processes and effects, research methods, advertising strategies and media and sports, His research focuses on the ways in which media fit into daily life. For a long time, Gantz has examined sports fans -- how they use the media, the role sports plays in their lives, the ways in which men and women approach and respond to sports on the media, the impact of mediated sports on family life, and the ways in which fanship changes over the course of adult life.
Gantz and his wife have two children (both of whom graduated from IU) and five grandchildren. He marvels at his wife who, in early retirement, is having the time of her life becoming fluent in Spanish.