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Vol. 56, No. 3 • March 2019 • .pdf version
Joe Mitch leaving behind a tough act to follow
By MALCOLM MORAN
I'm the guy in front of the classroom at IUPUI in downtown Indianapolis, reminding the next generation of media professionals that while operating on deadline, saying never is never a good way to go about your business.
Then I wait to see if there are any smiles.
Within that context, I would offer one never that would seem to be safe in the corner of the hoop world that we occupy, and another that is a lock.
The safe one is this: The men's game will never see a team match the UCLA achievement of seven consecutive national championships and 10 within 12 seasons.
The lock is this: Never will any USBWA executive director begin to approach the impact that Joe Mitch has had on our industry over the last 36 years.
Need convincing? Just go to the NCAA Tournament, stop and look around.
Those breakout sessions at the Final Four, the ones that create the possibility of more personal, less-stressful engagement with individual players, evolved from suggestions and discussions on Joe's watch.
The required availability of teams before they leave campus for the Final Four site, which helped reduce the nightmares of local beat writers and allowed outsiders to collect insight in a relatively low-key environment, resulted from his leadership.
The pool reporter with access to a game official to ask about a complex decision or ruling on deadline was the result of years of persistence and negotiations.
The formal, annual recognition of the best of the women's game succeeded from the start because Joe was behind the idea from the start.
The awards celebration on the Monday of the Final Four weekend, honoring the best practices in our industry and the most courageous of the people we cover, took shape more than three decades ago as a result of his imagination and vision.
All of this is to say that while the opportunity to become your executive director is an honor as great as the responsibility that accompanies it, the prospect can be more than a little unnerving. How do you follow that act?
Here is one thing to do. The carefully developed improvements in working conditions that have taken place over more than three decades, with the cooperation of NCAA staffers from Dave Cawood to Jim Marchiony to Dave Worlock, have become so familiar, such a part of the fabric, that it's easy to forget all the effort that went into the improvements.
The most important thing that can be accomplished by our organization is to establish the value we all receive from our annual commitment of membership dues, value that has been built over decades and all the important work to come. Just as we recognize the best work that is done by our members, we can identify the programs that give us the best chance to do our jobs in an effort to raise the standard.
It did not take long once I made the transition from industry to the academy more than 12 years ago to discover that one of the biggest differences is that service, a volunteer calling in industry, is a non-negotiable requirement in the academy. I have developed an even greater appreciation for the women and men who are willing to serve on our committees, build conference calls into their schedules, reach out to students during the annual Full Court Press seminar and put in the time to give our awards the credibility they have earned.
So thanks, in advance, for your dues-paying faith in our organization, for your involvement, your ideas, your energy, your imagination, your service. Thanks, Bob Hammel, the former president and USBWA Hall of Famer from Bloomington, Ind., for taking the time in a press room in East Rutherford, N.J., nearly 40 years ago to suggest to a kid from New York that joining would be a good thing. The kid could not have known how good it would be.
And thanks, Joe.
Thanks for everything.
By the way, is it OK if I call you tomorrow?
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