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Vol. 56, No. 3 • March 2019 • .pdf version
Awards dinner in St. Louis will be final act with USBWA
By JOE MITCH
My final act before the curtain closes on a 39-year career with the USBWA will be to oversee our season-ending College Basketball Awards dinner in St. Louis on April 15.
The dinner has been a fixture of the USBWA landscape since the first one was held, also in St. Louis, at the 2005 Final Four.
The dinner started out as a fundraiser for the USBWA but has also become a celebration for college basketball. This is the only awards dinner in the country that is open to the general public where the top players in the country congregate at one site to be honored for their achievements during the season.
The USBWA has hosted a dinner 13 of the last 14 years, honoring the nation's player of the year with the Oscar Robertson Trophy, the freshman of the year with the Wayman Tisdale Award and the coach of the year with the Henry Iba Award.
This year for the first time, the USBWA will honor the nation's best women's player with the Ann Meyers Drysdale Award. The USBWA plans to expand the women's awards in the future by honoring the coach of the year.
The USBWA is partnering with the Missouri Athletic Club to bring the CBA dinner to St. Louis this year and the next two years. The MAC also hosts the Herman Award dinner each year honoring the national player of the year in college soccer.
"The College Basketball Awards dinner is an annual highlight on the USBWA calendar, replete with the game's luminaries," said USBWA President David Teel, columnist for the Newport News Daily Press. "We're grateful to the Missouri Athletic Club for hosting this event."
The USBWA awards presentation was held during the Final Four for many years before moving to Oklahoma City for five years. After a one-year hiatus, the dinner returned to St. Louis last year, with the MAC successfully hosting the event before a sold-out crowd of over 500 people.
"We are thrilled to partner with the USBWA on this prestigious event," MAC President Wally Smith said. "For one night each year, the college basketball world is focused on St. Louis."
Mitch closes out his career after 39 years with USBWA
Joe Mitch is retiring on May 31 after 36 years as executive director of the USBWA. He served three years as Tipoff editor before taking over the executive director's post in 1983.
During his career with the USBWA, membership grew from a few hundred to over 900 sportswriters and journalists covering college basketball.
Under Mitch, the USBWA initiated programs to promote college basketball and sports writing. He started a Hall of Fame for the organization. The USBWA began awarding college scholarships to students pursuing careers in sports journalism and sponsored a best-writing contest each season for stories written by students about college basketball.
The USBWA established partnerships with the NCAA and the NABC to improve working conditions for writers in such areas as access to players and coaches, security and seating at games. The USBWA began providing pool reporters for NCAA tournament games and partnered with the Associated Press Sports Editors to provide APSE representatives and assistance to media coordinators for all tournament games.
The USBWA began hosting a season-ending College Basketball Awards dinner each year that served as a fundraiser for the organization and honored the nation's best players and top coach.
The USBWA increased its role promoting women's basketball by naming an All-America team each season and selecting annual awards for player and coach of the year.
"Back in the day, the USBWA was a feel-good organization," said Dave Dorr, a member of the USBWA Hall of Fame and president in 1979-80. "Presidents' roles were largely honorary. Members were happy with their seating at big games.
"When money began driving college basketball decisions, the USBWA faced new challenges. Joe's management style of patience, sensitivity and ability to find sponsors carried the day. He transformed the USBWA. He's leaving with the organization at its apex. Members will long benefit from his legacy down the road."
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