Vol. 56, No. 4 May 2019 .pdf version
Mike Waters: Taking the wheel as first president A.J.
Malcolm Moran: Advocacy is our greatest value
Joe Mitch: Thankful and honored
Williamson, Barnes claim top honors
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Enter the Best Writing Contest
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Malcolm Moran

Our advocacy is greatest value we can bring

USBWA Incoming Executive Director

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As the basketball season came to an end, there were two important reminders of your USBWA membership dues at work.

During that hectic conference tournament weekend, the Peoria (Ill.) Journal Star reported that longtime Bradley University beat reporter Dave Reynolds, a three-time Illinois Sportswriter of the Year, had been excluded from the media day of the men's basketball team between its Missouri Valley Conference championship and the departure for the NCAA tournament.

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Within 24 hours of the initial posting of the report on the Journal Star website and the immediate social media firestorm, the USBWA, in coordination with Associated Press Sports Editors president John Bednarowski of the Marietta (Ga.) Daily Journal and past president Gerry Ahern, issued a joint statement of concern over the denial of access. The university, including coach Brian Wardle, extended public and personal apologies. Bradley president Gary Roberts and athletic director Chris Reynolds issued statements. Chris Reynolds returned to campus from the NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Committee selection process to reinforce his commitment. And the access was quickly restored.

Then in the aftermath of Virginia's shocking, last-second victory over Auburn in a national semifinal, past USBWA president Dana O'Neil of The Athletic executed her role as the pool reporter. Reporters covering the game soon had access to a quote from J.D. Collins, the national coordinator of officiating, explaining official James Breeding's ruling that Samir Doughty of Auburn fouled Virginia's Kyle Guy on a 3-point attempt. Guy's three free throws with 0.6 seconds to play sent Virginia to the national championship game with a 63-62 victory. Collins' quote included the rule and section that was cited, adding clarity to what had been a chaotic situation for anyone reporting on deadline in the vastness of U.S. Bank Stadium.

It is important for you to know that the immediate responses to the Bradley access issue and one of the most high-profile officiating controversies in Final Four history were the result of years of negotiation and collaboration.

The APSE leadership has dramatically increased its awareness and involvement in our issues in recent years, and the collective effort to evaluate the Bradley situation and determine an appropriate, constructive intervention created a template.

Our efforts to discuss the decisive calls of officials were rejected when first voiced in the 1980s. Veteran members will remember the confusion when Pete Pavia ejected Dean Smith near the end of North Carolina's 1991 semifinal loss to Kansas. Supervisor Hank Nichols met with reporters in an impromptu news conference that highlighted the absence of any formal structure and the importance of a flow of information after a controversial decision.

The organization's advocacy for you official and unofficial continues throughout the year. When officers met with members of the NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Committee in Minneapolis, including 2019-20 chair Kevin White of Duke, the discussion included our appeal to restore courtside seats that were lost several years ago. I have been asked to represent the USBWA as part of the NCAA Media Advisory Group, which includes representation from the NCAA, APSE and CoSIDA.

The organization's most important role is to provide the maximum value to each member. I understand that the days of having membership dues reimbursed by the office are long gone, which adds to the importance of our advocacy. Please become involved as much as you can, even if that involvement is limited to careful, measured voting for the All-America teams and individual honors that define our collective credibility.

And please share your ideas. You can reach me at malcolm@usbwa.com. I have been given a new email address and the honor of serving you.

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