ST. LOUIS (USBWA) – Back in 2013 when Danielle
M. Donehew was riding the transition as associate commissioner
over women's basketball in the old Big East to the start in a similar
role with the then brand new American Athletic Conference, at the
organization's first media day, very high in her opening remarks
was a promise and request to the gathering about working together
and growing the game.
Since then, she has gone on to other roles, primarily as executive
director of the Women's Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA) and
also currently as president of the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame,
located in Knoxville, Tenn.
In all these position, when Donehew's name comes up in conversation,
the one phrase likely to be uttered many times is "media friendly."
It is that specific trait that has earned her the recipient of
the 2018 United States Basketball Writers Association Mary
Jo Haverbeck Award.
The Mary Jo Haverbeck Award is named for the pioneering Penn
State women's sports information, herself a USBWA member, who passed
away in January of 2014 after a short illness.
Having worked 25 years for the university until 1999, she was
the first official to publicize PSU women's sports teams and served
as a mentor for students interested in pursuing a career in athletic
communications or the media.
It is the equivalent to the Katha Quinn Award given out on the
In working all these jobs which involves interaction with the
media, Donehew has been instrumental in making sure media needs
are helped and served. She has also made it a part of her job to
urge continued cooperation between WBCA members of the coaching
community and the beat writers who cover their teams.
"I'm thrilled she's being honored with this award,"
said George Washington coach Jen Rizzotti, a former UConn star who
is the current president of the WBCA. "I think it is very deserving."
"She's friendly and helpful. Her number one goal consistently
is to promote women's basketball, promote the coaches in the game,
and continue to help us grow. So I can't think of anyone more deserving
at this time in our game right now."
When major announcements have had to be made, Donehew has been
helpful to get the word and release in the hands of appropriate
media members so we are prepared to roll with our stories once the
embargo is lifted.
"Thank you to our friends at the United States Basketball
Writers Association for recognizing me with the Mary Jo Haverbeck
Award," Donehew said upon receiving the news of her selection.
"I am proud of the strong relationship between the USBWA
and WBCA. Our community of coaches appreciates the important role
the media has played and continues to play in chronicling the game
of women's basketball in real time throughout its history.
"We are thankful for everything you do to promote our sport."
Donehew, a native of Atlanta and former women's star at Georgia
Tech, has also worked several seasons with the WNBA's Atlanta Dream
and was a director of operations on the staff of the late Tennessee
Hall of Fame legendary women's basketball coach Pat Summitt.
She is also an official of the Pat Summitt Foundation.
Says John Altavilla of the Hartford Courant, who was the beat
writer for the University of Connecticut women when Donehew was
with The American, "There was always one thing you could count
on when Danielle was working for the AAC and that was she would
always make herself available if a question needed to be asked -
and she would do her best, even if it was touchy or controversial,
to give you an honest answer.
"Those of us who have covered women's basketball for a long
period of time really depend on on those like Danielle to help us
tell the stories that should help to grow the game. I am really
happy for her and consider her deserving of any award she may receive
for as long as her career carries on."
Jack Watford, the WBCA Communications director notes, "I
have worked for a lot of people and have never seen anyone like
Danielle who is ready to engage and to talk to anyone, anytime,
Donehew will receive her award during the Women's Final Four
in Columbus, Ohio, at the Nationwide Arena.
The U.S. Basketball Writers Association was
formed in 1956 at the urging of then-NCAA Executive Director Walter
Byers. With some 900 members worldwide, it is one of the most influential
organizations in college basketball. It has selected a women's All-America
team since the 1996-97 season. For more information on the USBWA
and its award programs, contact executive director Joe Mitch at