A friendly suggestion for the next time any of us chronicles a coaching search: Show the AD just a little compassion.
Most snoops are unaccustomed to identifying, interviewing and evaluating candidates. But as the committee searching for the USBWA's next executive director learned this summer and fall, the process can be challenging, enlightening and, ultimately, quite rewarding.
The latter hinges on landing the model aspirant. That we did in Malcolm Moran.
A USBWA Hall of Famer and past president, Moran emerged from an applicant group that speaks to the organization's mission, membership and future. We didn't need to pay a headhunter six figures to recruit sterling candidates. The USBWA is replete with them, and many wanted to serve, offering their visions of how to make us better.
None was as equipped and eloquent as Moran.
He has been a part of the USBWA for most of Joe Mitch's 36 years as executive director, as a reporter and also in academia. Moran wrote for Newsday, the New York Times, Chicago Tribune and USA Today before shifting to direct Penn State's John Curley Center for Sports Journalism. Five years ago, Moran moved to IUPUI, where he directs the Sports Capital Journalism Program, teaches journalism and, oh by the way, works a short walk from NCAA headquarters.
"It would be an honor to take the baton from Joe Mitch after his 36 years as executive director," Moran wrote to the committee. "Please note that I did not dare use the words 'replace him,' because that is not possible. But in my current role as Director of the Sports Capital Journalism Program at IUPUI in Indianapolis, I am well positioned to build on our improving relationship with the NCAA. And IUPUI students – in Journalism, Public Relations and Sports Management – would make valuable contributions to help the organization grow."
Moran's interview was most revealing. His institutional knowledge and determination to enhance the USBWA's strengths and address our shortcomings was unsurpassed.
Moran knows we need to upgrade our website and make the organization more appealing to media members during, and just after, their college days. He believes in our mission and aims to aggressively sell it, with our help, to prospective members and sponsors. Moran understands our frustrations with regular-season and postseason seating and access. He also realizes we need not always view schools and the NCAA as adversaries, and his long-established relationships with NCAA officials such as Dave Worlock and Dan Gavitt will be invaluable.
Indeed, in 2017 Moran accompanied then-president Vahe Gregorian to San Antonio to lobby the NCAA Division I men's basketball committee for greater transparency in the tournament selection process.
So it's not like we're dusting off a flip phone hoping it will translate to the smart phone world. Moran has remained on the front lines with us. He speaks annually to the Sports Journalism Institute, has hosted the Associated Press Sports Editors' Diversity Fellows program and continues to organize the USBWA's Full Court Press seminar at the Final Four.
Moran served as USBWA president for the 1988-89 season, during which the organization established women's basketball awards for player, coach and freshman of the year, most courageous and media service. He was inducted into the USBWA Hall of Fame in 2005 and two years later received the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame's Curt Gowdy Print Media Award.
'Twould be an impeachable offense if I didn't thank those who served on the selection committee: Mike Waters (Syracuse Post-Standard), Seth Davis (CBS, The Athletic), Shannon Ryan (Chicago Tribune) and past presidents and USBWA Hall of Famers Dave Dorr, Blair Kerkhoff, John Feinstein, and Hoops Weiss. Their input was essential, as was guidance from Basketball Times editor John Akers and, as Moran mentioned, the irreplaceable Joe Mitch.
Moran's tenure begins June 1, and even though he's a young 65, if he approaches Mitch's 36 years, it will be a bigger upset than UMBC over Virginia.
Lodge Notes: Basketball community loses three greats
Jerry Radding, a USBWA president in 1973-74 and Hall of Fame inductee in 2004, died of natural causes at the age of 92 on Oct. 30. He retired from the Springfield (Mass.) Union News in 1991 and was a Final Four fixture for nearly four decades. ... Al Featherston, 69, who covered the Atlantic Coast Conference for more than four decades, died Nov. 5 following a lengthy illness. He worked for the Durham Sun and the Herald-Sun from 1974-2005. ... Terry Hutchens, who covered the Indiana Hoosiers for more than 20 years, died Dec. 21 after being critically injured in a three-car accident. Hutchens wrote for 15 years for the Indianapolis Star and most recently worked for CNHI Indiana Sports. ... USBWA Executive Director Joe Mitch will be presented the NABC Cliff Wells Appreciation Award for his long and outstanding service to men's college basketball during the NABC Guardian of the Game Awards Show on April 17 during the Final Four in Minneapolis. ... Past president and Hall of Famer Dick "Hoops" Weiss presented Temple coach Fran Dunphy with the Dean Smith Award at a luncheon in Philadelphia last November to benefit Coaches vs. Cancer. The event raised over $40,000. ... Tom Keegan, a recent USBWA board member who spent 11 years as a columnist for the Lawrence, Kan., Journal-World, was named a columnist for the Boston Herald.