Vol. 54, No. 4 May 2017 .pdf version
Vahe Gregorian: Changing times make USBWA vital
Joe Mitch: USBWA owes huge debt to Wayne Duke
Men: Mason, Ball, Few take USBWA's highest honors
Women: Plum earns top honors at Women's Final Four

Joe Mitch

USBWA owes huge debt to the late Wayne Duke

USBWA Executive Director

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The USBWA owes a huge debt of gratitude to former Big Ten and Big Eight commissioner Wayne Duke, who passed away at the age of 88 on March 29.

Duke is credited with forming the USBWA 61 years ago when he worked in the NCAA office as an assistant to executive director Walter Byers. Byers encouraged Duke to organize an association for basketball writers, similar to what had been done for football writers 15 years earlier. Duke eventually wrote the original Constitution and Bylaws for the USBWA.

Bob Russell of the Chicago Daily News was elected the association's first president, and Ed Schneider of the Chicago American was named the first executive director.

USBWA MOST COURAGEOUS AWARD: It is the USBWA's oldest award and since it was first presented 39 years ago, the recipients of the Most Courageous Award have typically been individuals who faced enormous challenges in life, such as cancer, an injury or the loss of an eye or an arm.

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Only once before has the USBWA recognized someone for their social activism. Penn guard Dau Jok was the first, returning to his war-torn homeland in Sudan to establish a foundation to help educate Southern Sudanese children through sports.

The second was this year's most courageous recipient – Bronson Koenig, a senior guard for Wisconsin and a member of the Ho-Chunk tribe. Koenig was recognized for the personal courage he showed in support of the Native American community protesting the Dakota pipeline for environmental reasons.

Koenig drove over 700 miles to join the protest. Once there, he spoke with kids at Standing Rock near Bismarck, N.D., and put on free basketball clinics.

"Being a role model, speaking out about issues and offering encouragement to the Native American community is one of the biggest priorities in my life," Koenig said. "I'm trying to make an impact any way I can."

Koenig accepted the Most Courageous Award from USBWA President Ed Graney at this year's USBWA honors luncheon at the Final Four in Phoenix.

"I am here accepting this award not for me but for all the Native Americans out there who are continuing to battle each and every day," Koenig said. "I believe that I get a lot of my courage from just seeing what they go through each and every day.

"When I first heard about the Dakota Access Pipeline, I knew I had to do something. I saw that my platform was a perfect way to raise awareness, and I started using social media to get the word out. But it just wasn't enough for me knowing there are people putting their lives at risk every day.

"The trip was a life-changing moment for me, and I feel the need to keep fighting for my people day in and day out. Honestly, I just did what I thought was the right thing to do ... to make the world a better place."

OTHER USBWA AWARDS AT THE HONORS LUNCHEON: David Gardner, who joined Bleacher Report recently after a stint with Sports Illustrated, received the Rising Star Award for journalistic excellence by members under 30.

Bernie Cafarelli, who moved from Notre Dame this past season to the American Athletic Conference, was presented with the Katha Quinn Award for meritorious service to the media. Cafarelli is only the third woman to receive the award.

Induction ceremonies for the newest members of the USBWA Hall of Fame were held for Tom Archdeacon, Dayton Daily News; Steve Carp, Las Vegas Review- Journal; Frank Deford, Sports Illustrated; and David Teel, Newport News Daily Press.

The Ray Marquette Award, named for the late Indianapolis Star sportswriter and USBWA executive director, was presented to Graney for his leadership as USBWA president. Graney's goal as president was to serve the membership. He focused on improving working conditions for writers, increasing access to players and coaches and encouraging schools and conferences to provide better security for writers covering games, especially for female writers walking to their cars after late night games.

Best Writing contest deadline approaches

The deadline for submitting stories and columns that were published during the 2016-17 college basketball season for the USBWA's Best Writing Contest is June 16. Entries received after the deadline will not be accepted.

Entries can be submitted in five categories: column writing, moderate-length features, magazine-length features, spot news/game coverage and enterprise/investigative stories.

Plaques and cash prizes are awarded in each category, with $150 given for first place, $125 for second, $100 for third, $75 for fourth and $50 for fifth.

Only dues-paying members of the USBWA are eligible to enter the writing contest.

Members may enter more than one category, but can submit only one entry per category. A series of articles may be submitted in the enterprise/investigative category.

Entries must include at the top of each story the name of the category, the author or authors of the story, the publication or website in which the article appeared, the date it was published or appeared online and an email address and telephone number for the entry's writer or writers.

Entries must be submitted to contest@usbwa.com in a readable type size. Any entry submitted in type size so small it cannot be read won't be considered. Send Word or text files only. Do not send links to stories on the Internet and clippings from magazines or newspapers. Also, delete any advertising, photos and captions from the files and any unnecessary carriage returns.

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