Welcome to the 2022-23 college basketball season

Thank you for joining the USBWA for the 2022-23 season. As we get set for tipoff, here is a welcome note from president Luke DeCock. Please note the digital edition of the membership directory will be posted shortly and the print copy, along with your membership card, will be in the mail to you in a couple of weeks. You can use the new online membership portal by logging in here: https://www.sportswriters.net/login.

Nov. 3, 2022


Fourteen years ago, when I was promoted to columnist and thrown into the deepest end of the college basketball pool, one of the first thing my colleague Caulton Tudor – a 1999 inductee into the USBWA Hall of Fame — said to me was, “We’ve got to get you signed up for the USBWA!”

That was the culture he grew up in, when the USBWA was as essential a part of a college basketball writer’s life as the AP poll or the hospitality room at the conference tournament. Joining the USBWA, and participating in the USBWA, was a given. But new generations ariseth, and the business continues to shrink, and we’ve gotten away from that a little bit.

Thanks to Tudor and others – like my ACC colleagues Lenox Rawlings, David Teel and Mike Waters – there has never been any doubt in my mind about the value of the USBWA and what it can do for people who cover the sport. I’ve never doubted that there was someone fighting for us, for me, on essentials like seating and access, the oxygen we need to do our jobs.

But all of us who love this organization have the mandate to build something enduring that we can pass along to the next generation, and make sure the next generation appreciates why it matters, and as jobs go unfilled and travel budgets shrink, that’s the crossroads where we find ourselves now.

We’ve survived the pandemic, thanks to the steady leadership of my predecessors, Seth Davis and Shannon Ryan, and even grown during that time with the mentorship program Seth launched entering its third season and a comprehensive redesign of the USBWA website led by Malcolm Moran and Ted Gangi. But there’s more to do, and more to accomplish, and with COVID as safely behind us as it’s ever going to be, it’s time to look forward.

We’re restructuring the board to abandon the obsolete “district” concept and realign along conference lines, which are really the constituencies we represent these days. It’s a structure that better reflects the modern college game, specifically engages people who cover the game at a national level and vests more power in the people who have the most to gain – or lose.

We’ve engaged the services of a sponsorship consultant to help secure corporate sponsors for the Oscar Robertson Trophy and Perry Wallace Award. While it has been overshadowed of late by the Naismith and Wooden awards, the Oscar is still the original and best player-of-the-year award, and we’re looking for the right entity to help us promote it. If we can generate the funds to offer new benefits to USBWA members – like a postgame hospitality room at the Final Four, for starters – we’ll only continue to grow.

But we’re going to grow regardless, through personal appeals to non-members, by revitalizing our social-media presence to better connect with a new generation of people who cover the sport and by continuing to work with the NCAA to secure better tournament seating and access. Some of that toothpaste is never going back into the tube, sadly, but we’ll never give up. And at the time I write this, I can say with great satisfaction that the NCAA has assured us it is using pre-pandemic access guidelines as the basis for the 2023 NCAA tournament.

That could change, obviously, but turning back the clock to 2019 when it comes to open locker rooms and the other necessities of our trade during the most important time of the year is the best possible news I can share.

There’s work ahead, to be sure. But the pandemic is behind us, and the USBWA is only going to get bigger, better and stronger as we move forward.

If you'd like to become more involved in the USBWA, please contact Malcolm (malcolm@usbwa.com) or me. We have plenty of opportunities. Here's to a great season!

Luke DeCock
2022-23 USBWA President