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Vol. 44, No. 3 • March 2007 • .pdf version
It's time for USBWA members to accept a more open NCAA
By ANDY KATZ / ESPN
I had one former president tell me that he was suspect of going to the NCAA offices for an invitation-only access to the selection process. The theory was that we, as an organization, would be compromised.
I couldn't disagree more.
Credit to USBWA president Tom Shatel and, as always, executive director Joe Mitch, for ensuring our first-ever USBWA NCAA Tournament mock selection day. I'm sure I speak for most of us when I say it was a rousing success. We all have written countless times about the selection process without fully understanding the process. Getting a glimpse really opened my eyes to the entire process.
What we should all appreciate is the professional way and the time and effort put forth by the NCAA's Greg Shaheen and David Worlock and the rest of the staff. They took this seriously and didn't cheat the process. The advance material and then the on-site prep work provided by the staff was incredibly helpful and really more than expected.
What we have to get away from is this us-against-them mentality. There is a new openness to the NCAA men's basketball staff. This perestroika-like approach should be met with open arms by our organization. At a time when athletic directors are selling media row on a regular basis, we should be thrilled that the NCAA wants to extend a welcome hand and offer up opportunities for access. Now, I know not everyone was invited. But getting the door open for the organization was a major first step.
The key will be to continue this open-door policy. Through access during the selection process, the open discussions about media seating and other work-related needs, we can forge ahead in covering the game. If we don't talk, and build trust, then we can't complain if we get frozen out. I didn't feel like any journalistic ethics were compromised. I didn't get the feeling that anyone else felt that, either.
So, in the year to come, I want to continue this open line of communication and look for other opportunities.
Seating on the day-to-day level at arenas around the country is also a priority. I'd also like to explore a few other ideas. I'd like to toss it out to Ted Gangi to see if it's possible to have a daily in-season (or out-of-season if possible) daily newspaper links for college-basketball stories only for all USBWA members. We have access to something like that at ESPN but if it's technologically feasible, I'd like to see our organization do one as well. Also, we still need to get sports information directors to see if we could have a global college hoop email exchange for all hoop news.
The more we can streamline our information, out to all members in this information age, the better served we are in covering the sport.
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