DALLAS (NCBWA) – Longtime executive associate
director of the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association
and assistant commissioner of Conference USA Russell D. "Russ" Anderson
passed away in Irving, Texas, Monday and has been memorialized for
his many contributions to college baseball and college athletics.
A graduate of North Central College in the Chicago area and native
of Downers Grove, Illinois, Anderson was with C-USA from its inception
and worked his way from assistant director of media relations to
assistant commissioner in recent years.
The veteran conference administrator had a special spot for college
baseball and other sports in his heart.
He was treasurer for the NCBWA from 1998-2021, and was a past
president before he became associate executive director of the organization.
He won the coveted NCBWA Wilbur Snypp Award in 2002 for contributions
to college baseball nationally.
As a student at North Central, he contacted then-Southwest Conference
assistant commissioner Bo Carter about working as a volunteer at
the 1993 SWC postseason baseball tournament in Austin, Texas, and
filled the gaps superbly in multiple roles. The weather was just
a little warm for the Chicago native, though.
"When I left Chicago," he said with a laugh when he arrived in
Austin, "it was about 65 degrees. Now it's pushing 100 every day
Yes, the Illinois native and longtime Chicago White Sox loyalist
was affected a bit by the heat, yet he persevered in the tourney,
just as he did with great aplomb for the next 28 years in athletics.
"The memories of Russ Anderson are too numerous and too wonderful
to get on a couple of pages of a tribute to him," NCBWA executive
director Carter said. "He thoroughly enjoyed working at the NCAA
World Series every year from 1998-2019 before COVID-19 canceled
2020 college baseball. He had a penchant for great Omaha steaks,
he was one of the best persons with regard to travel and accommodations
I ever met, and he treated all people with utmost respect.
"When you needed something done or a solution to a certain challenge,"
Carter added, "Russ was the voice of reason. I cannot think of a
better all-around great guy with college baseball, the bowls, NCAA
events and so many aspects of college and conference athletics.
He was so great in making arrangements for trips and events, we
named his expertise RDA Travel. He knew his way around virtually
every airport in the country."
The personable publicist had many great friends and associations
and shared hundreds of laughs with fellow NCBWA executive associate
director Mike Montoro of West Virginia (previously of Southern Miss)
and 35-year chair of the Dick Howser Trophy presented by The Game
Headwear David Feaster of St. Petersburg, Florida.
Anderson worked through dozens of membership changes in Conference
USA and was an integral part of the NCBWA as it took over the voting
process for the Howser Trophy from the American Baseball Coaches
Association in '98.
“I met Russ in 2000 when I first started as the director of media
relations at Southern Miss,” Montoro said. “He was one of the first
phone calls I received to welcome me to Southern Miss and to the
league. Our friendship and professional relationship grew tremendously
from there. We’ve had many conversations over the years, but you
can count on them revolving around, or always coming back, to baseball,
football and eating! The order was determined by the place and the
conversation. Russ recruited me to join the NCBWA board in 2002
and from there, I worked with an outstanding professional who couldn’t
be outworked or who couldn’t display more passion for college baseball
than he. Russ had a lot of friends and made a tremendous impact
on even more. He has left a legacy that is unmatched, and he will
be missed tremendously. The NCBWA, Conference USA, and especially
his friends and colleagues, lost an all-time great!"
"I met Russ in the early ‘90’s when the Dick Howser Trophy became
associated with the NCBWA,” Feaster said, “and they started doing
our voting. I always found him even tempered and a calm voice in
a storm. He was the consummate professional and was respected by
all who came into contact with him. He was instrumental in putting
the Dick Howser Trophy in the national spotlight it enjoys today.
He was a dear friend and will be greatly missed."
The dedicated college administrator was with Conference USA from
its inception in 1995 and publicized college football and baseball
specifically but was involved in many other aspects of C-USA operations.
He was vital in baseball and football scheduling, and officiating,
was a liaison for the conference football and baseball coaches,
hosted dozens of Zoom calls with these groups during the COVID-19
outbreak, was a member of the C-USA Hall of Fame Committee and managed
game and championship operations for several C-USA sports on an
Anderson was considered as one of the best NCAA and conference
events' media notes facilitators nationally and worked on such events
as the NCAA Men's Basketball and Baseball Championships, several
NCAA Regionals in football and basketball, the College Football
Playoff and numerous bowl games from the Dallas-Fort Worth area
to the Bahamas. He wrote thousands of imaginative releases with
notes and factoids many would not have considered.
"Russ will always be a treasured member of the Conference USA
family. He genuinely cared for those he worked with from colleagues
to coaches to teams," C-USA commissioner Judy MacLeod said earlier
this week. "His knowledge and pride in all things C-USA was unmatched
and his passion and dedication was evident in all he did. Russ will
truly be missed."
The longtime college sports administrator considered going to
Houston to watch his beloved White Sox defeat the Houston Astros
in the 2005 World Series his greatest sports thrill. It ended an
88-year title drought for the ChiSox.
Anderson was 50 and is survived by his sister Mary (David) Basek,
his brother William (Kim) Pieper and his nephews Chris (Jacki) Valdez,
David Valdez and Mike Valdez.
Statements from the NCBWA
Tribute from Conference USA