Vol. 47, No. 2 February 2010 .pdf version
Steve Carp: USBWA's willing to address your needs
Joe Mitch: USBWA lends hand to NABC
Rose, Steward win Most Courageous honors
David Jones: It's time to embrace change
Nicole Vargas: Last call for nominations for Rising Star
Winn dominates best-writing contest
USBWA Best Writing Contest results

Joe Mitch

USBWA lends hand to NABC in publicizing Hall of Fame

By JOE MITCH / Executive Director

The USBWA and the National Association of College Basketball Coaches have had a relationship that goes back over 50 years ago of working together to promote the college game.

Now the USBWA has made plans to help the NABC launch a new media campaign to publicize the association's National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame.

The college basketball Hall of Fame, unveiled in 2005, is housed adjacent to Kansas City's Sprint Center as part of the NABC's College Basketball Experience.

The NABC has typically announced its fall class at the NCAA Final Four each year in April.

"But the announcement seems to get lost at the Final Four," said Rick Leddy, public-relations director for the NABC. "There's so much going on that the inductees don't get the recognition they deserve."

So the NABC has decided to announce its class during the college-basketball season and has picked Feb. 24 as the date to do it this season.

The USBWA plans to help by sending the press release electronically to members of the organization and to post the announcement on the USBWA website.

There will be a news conference in Kansas City and a media teleconference that USBWA members will be invited to participate on.

A Hall of Fame honoring college-basketball greats was a long-time in the making and was embraced by the basketball community when it was first announced to the public.

The NABC's Hall of Fame serves as a complement to the Naismith Hall of Fame in Springfield, Mass., by enshrining not only coaches but players and teams who deserve recognition but may be omitted from the Naismith Hall.

A key player in the development of the college Hall of Fame was Kansas City Star sportswriter Blair Kerkhoff, a past president of the USBWA and a member of the Blue Ribbon Committee that selects the Hall of Fame induction class each year.

"The real credit for the Hall belongs to Jim Haney (NABC executive director), Reggie Minton (associate director) and the NABC board," said Kerkhoff. "I suppose if I had a role, it would have been encouragement early on, in print and in conversations with Jim and others in Kansas City, helping to develop the selection criteria and contributing some of the copy that's displayed on the walls at the Hall."

Since its inception, the college basketball Hall of Fame has drawn huge crowds for its induction ceremonies. The first class was special with James Naismith, Bill Russell, Dean Smith, Oscar Robertson and John Wooden, but the highlight might have come last fall when Larry Bird and Magic Johnson were enshrined together.

The coaches' association and the USBWA have had a relationship that dates back to the founding of the USBWA in 1956. For years, the board of directors of the two groups would meet at the Final Four to find ways to work together better and improve communication.

That practice ended several years ago because of time constraints at the Final Four, especially for writers.

But the bond between the two associations remains strong. T he NABC honors the current USBWA president each year with presentation of the Ray Marquette Award for leadership at the annual NABC awards event at the Final Four.

And now the USBWA is stepping forward to offer its hand to publicize the college Hall of Fame and pay tribute to those who have made college basketball the great game that it is today.

This year marks the 10th anniversary of the USBWA's sportswriting seminar held annually at the NCAA Final Four for college and high school students interested in pursuing a career in sports journalism.

Called "Full Court Press," the workshop provides students with an opportunity to hear from USBWA members and learn from their experiences as sportswriters.

Students are assigned various events to cover at the Final Four, with one student receiving a credential for the national championship game. Students can write stories about the events their assigned and submit them in a writing contest. The USBWA provides a $1,000 scholarship to the student whose story is rated best by a panel of judges. The scholarships are presented in honor of Larry Donald, a former USBWA president who passed away unexpectedly in 2000.

Since the first workshop was held in St. Louis in 2000, the USBWA has awarded $20,000 in college scholarships for seminars held at the men's and women's Final Fours.

Malcolm Moran, a past USBWA president and current Knight Chair of the sports journalism program at Penn State, is heading up this year's sportswriting workshop for the USBWA. Malcolm can be contacted via e-mail at mum24@psu.edu.

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