Vol. 57, No. 3 February 2020 .pdf version
Mike Waters: Final words from a transitional presidency
Malcolm Moran: Worthy discussion: analytics' place in sports writing, USBWA
Retiring NABC exec wins Katha Quinn Award
Toney's journey leads to Most Courageous Award
Most Courageous Cox sisters battle Type 1 diabetes
World-Herald beat writer is USBWA's Rising Star
Kansas duo highlights Player of the Year watch list
Join the USBWA or renew your membership

Mike Waters

Final words from a transitional presidency

By MIKE WATERS / Syracuse Post-Standard
USBWA President

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Being the president of the USBWA is a lot like being a parent. The days go by slow, but the year goes by fast.

There were times when it seemed like the conference calls would never end, but in the blink of an eye I've gone from accepting the gavel from David Teel in Minneapolis to turning it over to Seth Davis in Atlanta.

I remember taking over the post with much trepidation. First, there was the matter of the USBWA's longtime executive director Joe Mitch retiring. It's kind of like becoming the coach of an NBA franchise only to find out that the star player has abruptly retired. When Teel broke the news to me, I think my first words were "Are you kidding me?" And I'm leaving out one key word.

However, I was extremely fortunate; we all are actually, that past president and current professor Malcolm Moran agreed to take over the job. It's an old coaching axiom that you don't want to be the guy that follows the guy, but while that might be true of Wooden, Rupp or Smith, Malcolm has been up to the task. I've leaned on him like a baby holding onto the coffee table for much of the year.

I've also got to give a nod to John Akers, Hall of Famer and publisher of Basketball Times. There were so many times this year that Akers reminded me of an upcoming deadline for Tipoff or that a conference call was needed for an award or Final Four plans had to be firmed up. If not for John, the annual awards luncheon in Atlanta would have been held at the Varsity with few plaques handed out.

We've done some good work in the USBWA this year. Our outreach to other organizations like NABJ and AWSM is something that can help sports writers across the board. I hope it opens up our organization to people in the business that perhaps had not thought of us before. It's something I plan on continuing to push even after my term as president is up.

There has been just the start of improvements to the USBWA website. I hope to see the site's relevance grow under Malcolm's direction.

We also took a page from the heartwarming videos of walk-ons receiving scholarships and had the first video reveal of one of our awards when New Jersey City University senior Sam Toney learned that he was this year's recipient of the Most Courageous Award. I hope to see more of that in the future. It's a great way to spread the word about our organization and what it does.

It's hard to express how much the USBWA and college basketball mean to me. My dad introduced me to the game. He was an administrator at the University of Tennessee who was very close to UT assistant coach Stu Aberdeen. After some games, Dad would walk me into the locker room to meet the players, but first we would pass the sports writers and I'd hear the clickety-clack of their typewriters.

The next day I would read Marvin West, the former sports columnist for the Knoxville News-Sentinel and a USBWA Hall of Famer, or Ben Byrd, the columnist with the Knoxville Journal.

Years later, in my first job out of college, I covered a young coach at Belmont University named Rick Byrd. He was Ben Byrd's son.

I covered my first Final Four thanks to the USBWA. Denied a credential because my newspaper hadn't gone to the Final Four in a few words, USBWA president John Feinstein went to bat for me. The next thing I knew, I was in Denver, covering former Syracuse recruiting target Kenny Anderson, who had taken Georgia Tech to the Final Four.

It's been an honor to serve this organization and its over 800 members. While I can guarantee a peaceful transfer of power, I'm not going away. I'll be around on press row (even if it's nowhere near the court) and in post-game work rooms (even if there really isn't one).

I'll continue to have some role in the USBWA and I'm always available to helping out a colleague, so never hesitate to reach out to me.

So this is it. Dash-30-Dash

USBWA Final Four Schedule of Events

Full Court Press Sportswriting Seminar and Scholarship Competition: Friday, April 3, 8:15 a.m. (NCAA meeting room on main level of Mercedes-Benz Stadium). College and high school students will receive credentials to cover Friday's events and can compete for $2,000 in scholarships.

Oscar Robertson Player of Year Announcement: Friday, April 3, 9:35 a.m.

USBWA Board of Directors Executive Session: Monday, April 6 (Afterward, the board will meet with members of the Division I men's basketball committee).

USBWA Awards Luncheon: Monday, April 6, 11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. (Hyatt Regency Atlanta, Grand Hall East B, C, D): The luncheon will feature the presentation of the following awards:
Katha Quinn Award to Jim Haney, retiring Executive Director of the National Association of Basketball Coaches.
The Rising Star Award to Chris Heady of the Omaha World-Herald for excellence in sportswriting for journalists under 30.
Most Courageous Award to Sam Toney of New Jersey City University, who overcame years of homelessness to become a Division III All-American.
Induction into the USBWA Hall of Fame of Joe Mitch, longtime USBWA Executive Director; Wendy Parker of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and Basketball Times; Bill Reynolds of the Providence Journal; Mark Whicker of the Southern California Media Group; and Jack Wilkinson of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
The Jim O'Connell Award for Excellence in Beat Writing Award to the late Terry Hutchens, CNHI Sports Indiana.

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