The Tipoff: A pandemic navigated, a mentorship program launched

When Joe Mitch asked me four years ago if I would join the leadership pipeline at the USBWA, I was honored and thrilled.

I could never have imagined, of course, the unprecedented circumstances the game would be facing when my turn came.

Being president during a pandemic demanded a lot of time, adjustments, creativity and plenty of unique challenges.

But as LBJ once said, "What the hell is the presidency for?"

The good news is, we had a college basketball season, which was very much in doubt for most of the summer and fall.

Most of the games were played without fans or with limited attendance, but almost all of them were played with a significant media presence in the arenas, and we were still able to do our jobs through Zoom press conferences and other access opportunities.

That was a direct result of the many conversations between the USBWA, NCAA and CoSIDA, not to mention the informal communications that happen throughout the country.

There was already a spirit of cooperation between those parties, but it was significantly strengthened as we navigated our way through the pandemic.

I wish those conversations weren't necessary, but the appreciation and trust they yielded will benefit us well into the future.

The season also featured two significant initiatives for the USBWA.

The first was the naming of our Most Courageous Award for Perry Wallace, who as a player at Vanderbilt in 1967 integrated SEC basketball.

The second was a mentorship program that paired 50 college students with USWBA members.

This project was two years in the making and is very near and dear to my heart.

My presidency is ending in April, but I will continue to develop this program in the years ahead.

As always, the USBWA Board of Directors and other contributors guided us through our award season, from granting George Raveling our Dean Smith Award, to tapping Mirin Fader as our Rising Star, and bestowing the Bluefield College basketball team our Perry Wallace Most Courageous Award, CoSIDA's Doug Vance the Katha Quinn Award, and Mike Waters the Jim O'Connell Award for Excellence in Beat Writing.

We sent a luminous quintet of outstanding writers into our Hall of Fame.

By far the highlight of my tenure as president was making those congratulatory phone calls with executive director Malcolm Moran.

It's not often one gets to deliver such good news.

Speaking of Malcolm, I want to thank him for all of his contributions to the USBWA. What a blessing he is! Following Joe Mitch as executive director is like following John Wooden at UCLA, but I am hopeful that unlike Gene Bartow, Malcolm will last a lot longer than two years.

I am also gratified to pass the president's gavel to Shannon Ryan.

I have known Shannon for a long time and have been on quite a few Zoom calls with her this past winter.

The USBWA will be in very capable hands for 2021-22.

I always believed that I would enjoy being president when my turn came, but I honestly did not anticipate loving it as much as I did, pandemic and all.

It has been one of the great honors of my life.

I hope to be able to continue serving the USBWA in whatever capacity the leaders see fit.

Thank you all for your support of the USBWA and for allowing me to lead it this past season.

See ya on press row!

Sincerely, Seth Davis