Vol. 48, No. 3 March 2011 .pdf version
Bryan Burwell: He'll match your March Madness
Joe Mitch: Hall of Fame induction remains highlight
Kirk Wessler: For real courage, look to this year's winners
Full Court Press is on again in Houston
Kazemi, Abdul-Qaadir named USBWA's Most Courageous
Connors, Furfari, Spander named to Hall of Fame

Joe Mitch

Hall of Fame selection, induction remain highlights

By JOE MITCH / Missouri Valley Conference
USBWA Executive Director

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One of the real joys of being Executive Director of the USBWA for as long as I have 28 years now to be exact is to welcome the organization's newest Hall of Fame class each year and to see the smiles on the faces of those being inducted at the USBWA annual awards breakfast at the NCAA Final Four.

When we first established the Hall of Fame 23 years ago in 1988, our intention was to honor members past and present for lifetime achievement in sports journalism and for contributions to the organization.

We might have been one of the first writers' groups to establish a Hall of Fame. Nonetheless, the time was ripe to recognize those who made and continue to make the USBWA a vital and necessary organization to serve the needs of writers who cover the great game of college basketball.

Read the winning stories from the annual Best Writing Contest
USBWA member/award programs

The committee that selects the recipients each year takes its role very seriously. While there are many worthwhile candidates every year, the committee has kept the number of inductees to a small and select group to make the induction ceremonies especially meaningful for those who are enshrined.

The inaugural class in 1988 was the largest ever five in all and included four writers Smith Barrier, Dick Herbert, Ray Marquette and Jay Simon who set the standard for their coverage of college basketball.

The fifth charter member was Wayne Duke, who helped form the USBWA in 1956 and authored the organization's original constitution.

Since that first year, the size of each Hall of Fame class has averaged two inductees per year.

In the future, the committee is looking at ways to possibly expand each class to three annually that would include one writer who has passed away, a veteran writer who has been in the business 30 years or more and another who meets the minimum 20-year standard.

The induction ceremony itself has been one of the real highlights of enshrinement Monday on the morning of the NCAA championship game.

Some have cried during their acceptance speech. Whether shedding a tear or not, all have been genuinely touched by the honor bestowed on them.

It's especially heart-warming to see family members of the inductees attend the ceremony. The sister of the late Pete Axhelm, the legendary Newsweek columnist and author, felt it was important for her entire family travel to Detroit from New York to accept the Hall of Fame plaque on behalf of her brother.

As evidence of how important it is to be recognized by your peers, one of this year's inductees, 87-year-old Mickey Furfari, said: I am so very grateful. This is as cherished an award as I've ever had. Furfari, who is legally blind and still writing two columns a week on West Virginia from his home in Morgantown, will be accompanied to Houston by his daughter.

LODGE NOTE: Shannon Shelton, newly-appointed District V representative, has left the Detroit Free-Press for a public relations position out of sports with the University of Dayton. She is replaced on the board by USA Today columnist Mike Lopresti.

Texas' Rick Barnes named USBWA's 'Good Guy'

Texas Coach Rick Barnes will be presented with the Good Guy Award at the USBWA's college basketball awards breakfast, which will be held during the Final Four weekend.

Barnes, who is in his 11th season at Texas and 23rd as a Division I head coach, has a reputation for maintaining strong relationships with the media during his stops at George Mason, Providence, Clemson and Texas with candor and humor.

The breakfast will be held on Friday, April 1, at 8 a.m at the George R. Brown Convention Center in the George Bush Grand Ballroom.

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