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Vol. 52, No. 4 • May 2015 • .pdf version
Greater diversity a goal for USBWA
By JOE MITCH
One of the goals for the USBWA in 2015-16 is to identify African-American sportswriters who cover college basketball and to encourage them to not only join the organization but to be active in it as well.
That goal is shared by veteran sportswriter William Rhoden, a prominent columnist for the New York Times, who eulogized the late Bryan Burwell during induction ceremonies for Burwell in the USBWA Hall of Fame at the recent Final Four in Indianapolis.
"Bryan's spirit lives on," said Rhoden, who is in his 33rd year in the sports journalism profession. "He wanted a black presence in the business and wanted young black writers to become informed."
Burwell was a sports columnist for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch when he passed away last December after a short battle with cancer. He was president of the USBWA in 2010-11, only the second African-American in the USBWA's 60-year history, and is the first black member of the association's Hall of Fame.
Burwell was an advocate for more diversity in the USBWA. The USBWA has few black members in a membership of over 900.
"Bryan was courageous," Rhoden said. "He had the heart of a lion. He was always on the right side of issues. His spirit will never die. This award is forever."
USBWA AWARDS CEREMONY: Some 150 people attended the USBWA's awards luncheon in Indianapolis, the most ever in the 30-plus years the USBWA has been honoring members and others associated with college basketball at the Final Four.
In addition to Burwell, Mark Bradley of the Atlanta Journal Constitution was also inducted into the USBWA Hall of Fame. "This is the highlight of my career," said Bradley in his acceptance speech.
The USBWA also honored former NCAA vice president Tom Jernstedt with the Katha Quinn Award for service to the media and college basketball; sports photographer Rich Clarkson with a Lifetime Achievement Award for 60 years covering the Final Four; and Memphis Commercial Appeal sportswriter Michael Cohen with the Rising Star Award for journalistic excellence by members under 30 years of age.
An emotional part of the program came when Michigan freshman Austin Hatch was introduced by his coach, John Beilein, to a standing ovation and presented with the USBWA's Most Courageous Award. Hatch survived two plane crashes that killed both of his parents, sister, brother and stepmother.
He suffered a traumatic brain injury and spent two months in a coma and many more in intensive rehab.
"Seeing what he has gone through," Beilein said, "I don't think there's any goal he can't surpass."
HONORING DANA: ESPN.com columnist Dana O'Neil was presented with the Ray Marquette Award for her leadership as president of the USBWA this past year.
During her presidency, Dana sought greater access and improved working conditions for writers covering college basketball. She is the second woman to serve as president of the USBWA.
PARTNERSHIP WITH THE NCAA: The USBWA is partnering with the NCAA to conduct a media survey for all rounds of the NCAA tournament. USBWA webmaster Ted Gangi, who handles a similar survey of the college football playoffs for the Football Writers Association, is overseeing the program for the USBWA and the NCAA.
Lodge Notes: Bob Ryan, a member of the USBWA Hall of Fame, was named the winner of the Red Smith Award, chosen by members of APSE and presented to an individual who has made a significant contribution to sports journalism. Ryan, who spent all 44 years of his career at the Boston Globe, will receive his award in San Diego in June. ... Bud Withers, another member of the USBWA Hall of Fame, has retired after 45 years as a sports writer. Withers worked for three Northwest newspapers, including the Seattle Times since 1999. Withers, who covered 20 Final Fours, was named the sportswriter of the year in Washington and Oregon six times by NSSA. ... Bob Baptist has retired from his sports writing career at the Columbus Dispatch. Baptist has been the Ohio State men's basketball beat writer since 1997.
USBWA member Jesse Newell of the Topeka (Kan.) Capital-Journal took one first place finish, shared another first-place finish and placed second in a third category of the APSE writing contest. ... Newell finished first in beat writing, tied for first in feature writing and placed second in explanatory writing in the 30,000-75,000 circulation category. ... USBWA members Mike Sielski of the Philadelphia Inquirer, Brian Davis of the Austin American-Statesman and Matt Stephens of the Fort Collins Coloradoan also claimed first-place finishes. ... Sielski took first place in column writing in the over-175,000 category. Davis took first place in beat writing for 75,000-175,000. Stephens took first in breaking news for under 30,000. ... Multiple placewinners included James Crepea of the Montgomery Advertiser, who finished third in breaking news and third in features in under 30,000, and John Bohnenkamp of the Burlington Hawk Eye, fifth in column writing and 10th in beat writing. ... Kelly Lyell of the Coloradoan placed fourth in breaking news in under 30,000.
Other members who placed in beat writing included: Jason King of Bleacher Report, third in over 175,000; Mark Ziegler of UT-San Diego, fifth in over 175,000; Jeff Greer of the Louisville Courier-Journal, tied for sixth in 75,000-175,000; and Seth Soffian of the Fort Myers News Press, 30,000-75,000. ... Tom Noie of the South Bend Tribune placed third in feature writing in the 30,000-75,000 category. David Teel of the Newport News Daily Press placed ninth. ... Steve Berkowitz of USA Today placed ninth, along with Erik Brady, in over-175,000 explanatory writing.
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