Vol. 57, No. 2 • January 2020 • .pdf version
• Mike Waters: Reaching out to NABJ, AWSM and beyond
• Malcolm Moran: Let's recognize best schools that allow media do its job
• Five Hall of Famers: two centuries of experience
• Mitch selected to Hall of Fame he helped originate
• Wendy Parker: A pioneer for women's coverage
• Reynolds a Rhode Island institution
• Quick typing, quicker wit
• Wilkinson stayed for the love of the game
• Join the USBWA or renew your membership

Mitch selected to Hall of Fame he helped originate
By JOHN AKERS / Basketball Times

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Fittingly, the USBWA's Hall of Fame welcomes the man who initiated the honor.

Joe Mitch was five years into his 36­year career as the executive director of the USBWA (plus three more as editor of the Tipoff) when he went to the board with an idea about how to honor members. USBWA founder Wayne Duke, past executive director Ray Marquette and writers Smith Barrier, Dick Herbert and Jay Simon became the inaugural Hall of Fame class of 1988.

Thirty-two productive years later, Mitch joins them.

"I'm humbled," he said. "When we started this – and I say 'we,' because I wasn't the only one behind it – I never felt that I'd be inducted into the Hall of Fame." Under Mitch's leadership:

• The USBWA multiplied from roughly 200 members to today's membership of more than 800.

• The USBWA gained the financial stability it enjoys today through Mitch's fund-raising experience from his work at the Metro and Missouri Valley conferences.

• Pool reporters gained access to officials and breakout sessions were provided for players during NCAA tournaments.

• Seminars and scholarships have been provided to high school and college students at each Final Four over the past two decades.

• The nation's top player, coach and freshman are honored at an annual post­season gala, currently in St. Louis.

• Hall of Fame inductees and winners of the Katha Quinn, Most Courageous and Rising Star awards are honored at a luncheon on the Monday of each NCAA championship game, though it took no small amount of trial and error to transform an event that began as a poorly attended annual breakfast.

"I asked (past president Bill) Brill how we could get members to attend, and he said to serve beer," Mitch recalled. "The next year, we got Coors Light as a sponsor, and we had beer and scrambled eggs for breakfast."

Pause for effect. "It was well attended."

It can safely be said that no member has cared for – or worried about – the USBWA than Joe Mitch. Or likely ever will.

"It's been a great 39 years," Mitch said. "I would do it all over again if I had the opportunity."

Modestly, Mitch credits past presidents too numerous to mention for aiding him during a nearly four-decade run with the USBWA.

Fittingly, the tributes from these past presidents rolled in when Mitch announced last May that he was retiring as the USBWA's executive director.

"The USBWA would have curled up and died years ago without you," wrote Pat Forde.

John Feinstein wrote of Mitch's "remarkable decency." Bob Hammel said Mitch lifted a "good organization to heights none of us could have imagined way back when."

Mitch was leaving the USBWA at its apex, according to Dave Dorr.

"Back in the day, the USBWA was a feel-good organization," Dorr said. "Presidents' roles were largely honorary. Your management style of patience, sensitivity and ability to find sponsors carried the day. You transformed the USBWA. Members will long benefit from your legacy down the road."

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