Vol. 43, No. 4 May 2006 .pdf version
Tom Shatel: Final Four seating issue is here
Joe Mitch: Second breakfast becoming a staple
Andy Katz: Friday breakfast will get bigger, better
Dick Jerardi: USBWA, NCAA committee listened
Best writing contest deadline is June 15

Dick Jerardi

USBWA listened, and so did NCAA selection committee

By DICK JERARDI / Philadelphia Daily News
jerardd@phillynews.com

There was a time that just about everything about the NCAA Tournament committee was treated as a state secret. That is no longer the case.

In recent years, the committee has been more open about what it does and why. The members have gotten more comfortable talking about the process and speaking in something other than generalities.

That was very true in public this year. And just as true in private when several USBWA members met with several members of the committee in Indianapolis the morning before the national semifinals.

We listened, and they listened. Everybody agreed that that we all have similar goals. And the best way to end up in the right places is to communicate.

We discussed Final Four seating, now and in the future. It might change in some way at some point, but nothing has been decided at this point.

We discussed wireless at the various NCAA sites. Was the $30 per day reasonable? Too much? Should it be free?

Is there a better way to handle availability following games that end well after midnight? When most writers on East Coast deadlines have almost no time to file, would it just be better if the two coaches were quickly available so we could get something? Is that better than following the usual protocol?

Why are players designated for the interview room before the game? Why not just wait to see how the game plays out and let each school's SID make a decision based on who did what during the game?

That especially makes sense for late games, when not as many people have the time to get to the locker rooms, which take some time to open.

The on-line applications worked well enough, but will be better next year. David Worlock, the new tournament media coordinator, said they "plan to tweak the system and make it more user friendly.: Next year, Worlock hopes that wireless applications will be available on line.

It was suggested that maybe we could get everyone in the system and then wait to apply for first- and second-round sites after the selections are made. Most of us with specific teams to cover can't know where we are going unless that team is a top seed eligible for site preference.

The regionals are easier because most publications, if they plan correctly, have some idea which writers will be going where on the second weekend. And, if changes have to be made, they can generally be made with a simple phone call to the site media coordinator.

It was obvious that the committee members understood the issues. It was just as obvious that they are into solving them and helping us do our jobs. It was very clear they understand our historical role in the tournament and still believe that role is vital.

I have been at a few of these meetings. Each has been interesting in its own way. I found this one not only interesting, but also helpful and quite instructive.

Generally, we have one of these meetings per year. We talked about having several of them each year.

The day after our meeting, outgoing USBWA president Tony Barnhart suggested that we should designate a member at each site to list any issues at the site. And when the tournament ends, compile all the issues from all the sites and get them off to the committee so they can be considered when they have time to consider them.

After spending a few hours with members of this committee, it was clear to all us they will consider whatever it is that we think is worth considering.

Listening is a lost art these days. The committee listened to the USBWA members. And we listened to them.

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