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Vol. 45, No. 3 • April 2008 • .pdf version
Larry Donald is missed but not forgotten
By JOE MITCH / Executive Director
The NCAA Final Four is always a great time for writers and USBWA members to reacquaint themselves with those they haven't seen or heard from since the last Final Four.
This is my 32nd consecutive NCAA Final Four, and for me the best part of the event is seeing those I normally don't cross paths with during the season but rather only exchange e-mails with or talk to on the phone.
And each year since 2000, the one person I think about and miss seeing the most at the Final Four is former USBWA president Larry Donald.
Larry was a fixture at the Final Four and especially the media hospitality room, where he loved to tell stories and usually was the last person to leave before the room was closed down for the evening.
I remember his contagious laugh and the twinkle in his eye when he talked about the coaches and players he wrote about for Basketball Times. Larry was founder, editor and to many the man most identifiable with Basketball Times.
Larry, while taking his daily morning walk near his home in Pinehurst, N.C., collapsed on the sidewalk in the fall of 2000 and died of an apparent heart attack.
Gone was the man who cared as much about the USBWA as any person I've been around in my 28 years with the association.
Originally from Deshler, Ohio, Larry loved three things unquestionably: watching basketball, playing golf and writing about both. He was a member of the USBWA Hall of Fame; a winner of the Basketball Hall of Fame's Curt Gowdy Award, the highest award the Hall confers on the media short of induction; the winner of over 20 USBWA writing awards; and a veteran of more than 25 Final Fours.
Larry recently was called "the father of us all," by longtime friend and colleague Bob Ryan of the Boston Globe. I ndeed, with his own distinguished work and that of some of America's finest writers past and present – Ryan, Charlie Pierce, John Feinstein, to name a few – Larry was able to create publications that catered to a loyal, dedicated following.
When Larry passed away, the visitors, friends, and associates who extended sympathies read like a modernday Who's Who of basketball. Among the coaches who attended his funeral was North Carolina's Dean Smith.
It is with Larry's good humor, his passion for writing and his wonderful gift for story-telling that the USBWA is able to we continue the vision Larry laid out in 30-plus years of dedication to the sports-journalism profession and love of the game.
The USBWA dedicated in Larry's memory the two $1,000 journalism scholarships for students participating in the sports writing seminars at this year's NCAA men's and women's Final Fours in San Antonio and Tampa, respectively.
The scholarships are a lasting memory of a man who dedicated his life and career to helping others pursue his dream of becoming a sportswriter.
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