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Vol. 54, No. 1 • November 2016 • .pdf version
Izzo is perfect choice for Dean Smith Award
By JOE MITCH
When the USBWA board began thinking about candidates last April for this year's Dean Smith Award, one name kept coming up for discussion.
The board eventually voted unanimously for Izzo, the Michigan State coach who has built a powerhouse program in East Lansing.
There really couldn't have been a better choice for the award that was established last year to honor the memory of the legendary North Carolina coach.
The Dean Smith Award was created by the USBWA to recognize someone each year in college basketball that embodies the spirit and values of Smith. A sculpture of Smith by famed sculptor Brian Hanlon is presented to the award winner.
Izzo is the second person to receive the award. Former Georgetown coach John Thompson was selected as the first recipient.
Coaches who receive the Smith Award are recognized for more than just their success in basketball.
"We wanted to honor Coach Smith for the life he led and the lives he touched," said past USBWA president John Feinstein, who had the idea to establish the award honoring Smith. "Coach Smith would be very proud to have Tom's name on the award in his honor."
Among the qualities that the award is based are honesty and integrity, being a part of players' lives during and after college, abiding by NCAA rules, involvement in the community, standing up for social issues and causes and having a reputation for treating people with respect.
"Tom Izzo represents everything the Dean Smith Award stands for," USBWA president Ed Graney said. "Coach Izzo's distinguished career and commitment to excellence represent the standards for which this award is defined, qualities Coach Smith held as paramount in making an impact on the lives of players on and off the court."
Izzo has a history of community involvement and humanitarian work.
In 2013, Izzo received the Wayman Tisdale Humanitarian Award, named after the late Oklahoma All-American, for having made a significant and positive impact on society and for serving as an active volunteer in the community.
He has been involved in raising funds for Coaches vs. Cancer, Volunteers of America and the V Foundation for Cancer Research. In 2009, Izzo was presented with the Coaches vs. Cancer Champion Award for his work and leadership in the fight against cancer.
In 2009, the USBWA presented Izzo with the association's Good Guy Award for his accessibility and relationship with the media.
Izzo is also known for helping his players be successful students and for maintaining a relationship with them after college. He has achieved a graduation rate of over 80 percent for players who have completed their eligibility.
"He calls or texts me all the time to see how things are going," Golden State Warriors All-Star Draymond Green said. "He cares about us as people and helping us grow as human beings. I don't think you get that kind of relationship with most coaches at other schools."
Now in his 22nd season as Michigan State's coach, Izzo is the longest-tenured coach in the Big Ten Conference. He led the Spartans to the 2000 NCAA championship, the 2009 national championship game, seven Final Fours, seven Big Ten regular-season titles, five Big Ten tournament championships and 19 consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances.
Nominations being taken for USBWA awards
Nominations are now being accepted for the following USBWA awards to be presented next April.
HALL OF FAME: Established in 1988, the USBWA honors past and current members for their contributions to the organization and for their achievements in sports journalism. To be eligible, an individual must have a minimum of 20 years experience as a sports writer or college athletics administrator dealing with basketball. Send nominations to USBWA Executive Director Joe Mitch at firstname.lastname@example.org.
KATHA QUINN AND MARY JO HAVERBECK AWARDS: Both awards recognize individuals in men's and women's basketball for their service to the media and for the inspiration they provide to those in the sports journalism profession. The awards are presented in honor of two former sports information directors who have passed away -- Quinn (St.John's) and Haverbeck (Penn State). Send nominations for the Quinn Award in men's basketball to past president Malcolm Moran at email@example.com and to Mel Greenberg at firstname.lastname@example.org for the Haverbeck Award in women's basketball.
MOST COURAGEOUS: The USBWA presents a male and female award, honoring a player, coach, official or administrator who demonstrates extraordinary courage while facing adversity in life. First presented in 1978, it is the USBWA's oldest award. Send men's nominations to David Teel, USBWA third vice president, at email@example.com and women's nominations to Greenberg.
RISING STAR: The USBWA honors a member who is under 30 and shows outstanding promise as a journalist covering college basketball. Send nominations to John Akers, Tipoff editor, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Lodge Notes: USBWA loses Finney, Kensler
USBWA Hall of Famer Pete Finney, a longtime New Orleans sports reporter and columnist for 68 years, and two-time USBWA Board member Tom Kensler, who spent the past 25 years with the Denver Post, passed away last summer.
Finney, 88, who died on Aug. 13, was inducted into the USBWA Hall of Fame in 2012. Kensler, 64, died July 22 from complications from a brain aneurysm.
Laura Keeley, the USBWA's most recent Rising Star award winner, left the News & Observer to enter the Columbia Law School. The Kansas City Star hired a pair of writers to cover Kansas basketball – Jesse Newell of the Topeka Capital-Journal and Gary Bedore of the Lawrence Journal. Amelia Rayno of the Minneapolis Star Tribune, left her beat covering University of Minnesota athletics to cover food, travel and features for the newspaper.
Longtime USBWA member Jack Bogaczyk retired on June 30. Bogaczyk, a former columnist in Roanoke, Va., and Charleston, W.Va., was most recently a web columnist and magazine editor for Marshall University Athletics.
Dick Weiss has been selected to the Philadelpha Sports Hall of Fame.
Past president Blair Kerkhoff represented the USBWA and the Football Writers Association at the national Associated Press Sports Editors' convention in Charlotte, NC, in June. Blair participated in a seminar where he spoke mostly of access and seating issues and how the writers' associations work with the NCAA, bowls, conferences and schools on issues and problems.
Hall of Famer Dave Kindred donated materials from his 50-year career as a sports writer to Illinois Wesleyan University.
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