Vol. 43, No. 1 • November 2005 • .pdf version
• Tony Barnhart: Power of USBWA apparent
• Joe Mitch: Celebrating our 50th anniversary
• Andy Katz: Schools should know how to reach us
• Tom Shatel: A shorter USBWA meeting?
• Mike Waters: The press row seating problem
• Ted Gangi: Don't lose your mind over memory
• No. 1 Duke puts pair on 'Oscar' Watch List
Joe Mitch
Joe Mitch

Celebrating the 50th anniversary of the USBWA

By JOE MITCH / Executive Director
mitch@usbwa.com

This season marks the 50th anniversary of the U.S. Basketball Writers Association and plans are already
underway to celebrate the occasion at this year's NCAA Final Four in Indianapolis.

The USBWA board of directors and officers met by conference call in October and tossed around ideas about how best to commemorate the USBWA's founding in 1956 and 50 years of service to writers who cover college basketball for a living.

One novel suggestion by board member Steve Carp of the Las Vegas Review Journal was to recognize 50 members who have made the most significant contributions to the organization's growth in the last 50 years.

Other plans include picking the top 50 people in college basketball and the 50 most memorable college basketball stories in USBWA history. More details will follow in the next issue of The Tipoff, but if members have other ideas about ways to celebrate the association's 50th anniversary, please pass them along to either me or President Tony Barnhart.

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Also during the Final Four, the USBWA presents several awards honoring members for their service and dedication to the association and people in college basketball for their contributions to the sport. These include:

• Hall of Fame: There is no greater honor than to be recognized by your peers and since 1988 when the USBWA Hall of Fame was established, 46 members of the organization have been inducted into its Hall of Fame.

To be eligible, individuals must have 20 years of service in the profession and have achieved a level of distinction in the sports journalism profession.

The USBWA's Hall of Fame includes a “Who's Who” among sports writers, including current members Bill Brill, Bob Ryan, John Feinstein, Jerry Radding, Alex Wolff, Jim O'Connell, Mel Greenberg, Caulton Tudor, Dick Weiss, Billy Reed, Dave Kindred, Ron Green Sr., Dave Dorr, Bob Hammel, Steve Guback, Gordon White, Curry Kirkpatrick, Dan Foster, Mal Florence, Bill Millsaps, Jim O'Brien, Bill Jauss and Jay Simon.

• Katha Quinn Award: Presented in memory of Katha Quinn, former sports information director at St. John's University who died following a courageous battle with cancer.

The award recognizes those in college basketball who like Katha have excelled at servicing the media but can also include individuals in college basketball who provide an inspiration to those in the sports journalism profession.

Media services recipients include Bill Hancock and Jim Marchiony (NCAA), Al Shrier (Temple), Craig Miller and Amy Early (USA Basketball), Roger Valdiserri (Notre Dame), Skeeter Francis (ACC), Rick Brewer and Steve Kirschner (North Carolina) and Tim Tolokan (UConn).

Inspirational winners include Washington Post writer Mark Asher, who continued to cover major sports events while battling serious health problems, and Jack Watkins, associate commissioner of the Missouri Valley Conference whose daughter Kate died during a time when he served as Executive Director for the Valley and an NCAA Tournament.

• Most Courageous Award: This is the USBWA's oldest non-player/coach award and perhaps the association's crown jewel.

First presented in 1979, the most courageous award has been the highlight of the USBWA's annual Monday morning breakfast at the Final Four, bringing tears to just about everyone who is present for the awards ceremony.

The award recognizes a player, coach, game official or administrator who has faced severe challenges or adversity
in life. Some have fought and lost battles with cancer: Jim Valvano; Phil Scaffidi (Niagara); and Mark Alcorn (LSU).

Others have had to deal with their handicaps: Virginia Tech's Rayna DuBose, who lost parts of all four limbs due to a spinal cord bacterial infection; South Carolina's James Bradley, deaf since he was 18 months old; Indiana's Landon Turner, paralyzed from a car accident; and Florida guard Eddie Shannon, blind in one eye since grade school.

Then there was Nolan Richardson, on the day Arkansas was to play in the 1995 national title game, openly weeping at the dais while accepting the award for dealing with racial prejudice while growing up and the death of his daughter due to leukemia when he was coaching.

And finally, no one will forget Eddie Sutton accepting on behalf of the Oklahoma State program following the plane crash that killed 10 members of his team. It was one of the most emotional USBWA awards ceremonies ever.

Nominations for all of these awards are now being accepted and should be sent to my attention at mitch@usbwa.com by Jan. 1.

USBWA looking for longtime members: In celebration of its 50th anniversary, the USBWA would like to recognize those current members who have maintained membership in the organization the longest since the USBWA's inception in 1956. Since records dating back to the formative years of the USBWA are incomplete, members are asked to e-mail their names and years of membership to Joe Mitch, executive director, at mitch@usbwa.com.
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