ST. LOUIS (USBWA) Legendary writers Bill Connors, Mickey Furfari and Art Spander have been elected to the U.S. Basketball Writers Association Hall of Fame, it was announced today by USBWA Executive Director Joe Mitch.
Connors, Furfari and Spander will be inducted into the USBWA's Hall of Fame during ceremonies at the annual USBWA awards breakfast on April 4 in Houston during this year's NCAA Men's Final Four. The three writers comprising this year's Hall of Fame class combine for more than 150 years in the sportswriting profession.
Connors, who died in 2000, was an iconic columnist in Oklahoma. He spent 47 years at the Tulsa World, where he was the sports editor from 1959-94.
Furfari has covered West Virginia athletics for 65 years, through the basketball eras of "Hot Rod" Hundley, Jerry West, Rod Thorn and Fred Schaus. At 87, he is retired after 40 years as a daily sportswriter for the Dominion Post but still writes columns for a syndicate of several West Virginia newspapers.
Spander began his career as a news writer for United Press International in 1960, moved to sportswriting for the Santa Monica Outlook in 1963. He went to work for the San Francisco Chronicle in 1965 and was named the lead columnist for the San Francisco Examiner in 1979. At 72, he continues to write for the Examiner and RealClearSports.com and will be attending his 28th consecutive Final Four.
The soft-spoken Connors was a native of Canadian, Okla., who became a graduate of Oklahoma State. He was best known for writing columns that were clever, informative and fair to their subjects.
He became friends with many sports legends, including Henry Iba, Eddie Sutton and Bob Knight, from the college basketball world.
When Connors died, Sutton told the Tulsa World, "I guess of all the sportswriters I've ever seen, he certainly was the fairest and most accurate. I never met anybody that didn't like Bill Connors."
Former UTEP coach Don Haskins said, "He was living proof that you could write without harassing people. People loved to read Bill Connors. All coaches loved Bill Connors."
Connors was an 11-time winner of Oklahoma's Sportswriter of the Year and was inducted into the Oklahoma Sports Hall of Fame in 1998.
Furfari has covered West Virginia athletics since graduating from the school in 1948. The state's dean of sportswriting was voted West Virginia sportswriter of the year five times.
Though he is "retired" on Aug. 1, 1989, and is legally blind, Furfari continues to write a column for a syndicate of West Virginia newspapers. He recently completed the book Mickey's Mountaineer Memories. In the introduction, West called Furfari "a state treasure."
"There simply aren't enough Mickey Furfaris around," West once said, "and none that I see on the horizon."
Furfari spent 40 years from 1949-89 at the Morgantown Dominion Post as a managing editor, sports editor, Sunday editor and executive sports editor.
Furfari was also the co-sports editor of the Daily Athenaeum in 1946-47. He worked for the Associated Press in Huntington, W. Va., before serving in the U.S. Army in World War II from 1943-46. He was the assistant sports editor at the Charleston, W. Va., Gazette in 1948.
Spander also rubbed shoulders with legends. He met John Wooden in the coach's temporary office when Spander was a freshman at UCLA in 1956.
Spander was awarded the McCann Award in 1999, earning him a place in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. His golf coverage earned him the Masters Major Achievement Award in 2007, the PGA of America Lifetime Achievement Award in 2009. This year, he won the UCLA Award for Professional Achievement in journalism and the Tournament Golf Journalism Award.
Besides his streak of Final Fours, Spander also has covered 44 consecutive Masters, 34 Super Bowls, 41 U.S. Open golf tournaments, 30 British Open golf tournaments and 26 Wimbledons. He also has attended 58 consecutive Rose Bowls, initially as a spectator and vendor at the last 48 as a journalist.
Spander also has written or co-authored three books and is a frequenter commentator on sports talk radio and a contributor to various sports magazines.
The USBWA Hall of Fame was established 23 years ago in 1988. Since its inception, 56 individuals have been inducted into the USBWA Hall of Fame.
The U.S. Basketball Writers Association was formed in 1956 at the urging of then-NCAA Executive Director Walter Byers. With some 900 members worldwide, it is one of the most influential organizations in college basketball. For more information on the USBWA and its award programs, contact executive director Joe Mitch at 314-444-4325.
USBWA Hall of Fame