ST. LOUIS. (USBWA) – With the Women's Final
Four to be held this year in Dallas in the Lone Star State, awarding
Barb Kowal the Mary Jo Haverbeck Award
for giving service to the U.S. Basketball Writers Association has
all the right connections.
Though this award is the women's version of the Katha Quinn award
on the men's side, Kowal's current role as director of professional
development and external affairs for the College Sports Information
Directors of America (CoSIDA) has filtered into both genders on
the media side benefitting from her work with a new generation of
athletic department media representatives.
Kowal was there at the creation when the powerful Connecticut
women's basketball program took off in the early 1990s and was able
to help facilitate an increased media demand covering Geno Auriemma
and his players.
Then she uprooted from New England to the Deep South to work
with a second Hall of Fame coach in Jody Conradt and the University
of Texas program before moving into her duties with CoSIDA.
And Kowal was a contemporary and friend of Mary Jo Haverbeck,
the late pioneering Penn State women's sports information director
for whom this award is named.
"I can think of anyone more deserving of this honor than Barb
Kowal," said Temple's Larry Dougherty, a past CoSIDA president.
"She truly embodies the passion that Mary Jo displayed."
Doug Vance, CoSIDA's executive director, echoed Dougherty. "I'm
thrilled for Barb that she has been selected for such a meaningful
honor. In particular, because it's an award selected by the USBWA
that pays tribute to Mary Jo Haverbeck ... one of the very best
in the history of CoSIDA."
Judy Willson, assistant commissioner of the Mountain West, added,
"Barb is very much like Mary Jo in this aspect. Both women are great
examples to those of us who are trying to follow in their footsteps
and be the same type of extraordinary leaders in the field."
Auriemma remembered Kowal as the media traffic controller during
the rise of the Huskies.
"Barb was with us at a time when it was just starting and we
had no experience with just what was coming from a media attention
standpoint," he recalled recently. "We were so lucky to have Barb
as our SID to guide us through those early years because she was
the perfect person to steer us through all the growing pains.
"Over the years, we have gained a lot of experience with the
media, but when Barb was here, it was really tough and she managed
Jeff Jacobs, columnist for the Hartford Courant, recalled Kowal's
passion in those UConn days.
"When I came over from the NHL, she was the first women's SID
I met for basketball, and the passion she had for the sport and
doing her job, it was like assertiveness. It really struck me. It
really opened my eyes to the game."
Joni Lehmann of the Big 12 Conference remembered Kowal bringing
the same passion to the Longhorns.
"She worked tirelessly to provide top-notch service to the media,"
Lehmann said. "Her attention to detail and passion for promoting
her coaches and student-athletes were unmatched."
Kowal, who is at Women's Final Fours annually as a member the
NCAA's Rick Nixon's media assistant staff, began as a graduate assistant
to Howard Davis at Massachusetts before becoming Manhattanville
College's first full time SID (1982-85) prior to joining UConn.
"As a player, I'm not sure you think how someone who never puts
on a uniform is vested in your program," said George Washington
women's coach Jen Rizzotti, a former UConn star in the mid-1990s.
"Barb was that person. She was really dedicated to making us look
the best and we loved her. So I'm happy to hear she is getting this
Kowal will be presented with the Haverbeck Award at the Women's
Final Four in Dallas on Friday, March 31.
The U.S. Basketball Writers Association was formed in
1956 at the urging of then-NCAA Executive Director Walter Byers.
With some 900 members worldwide, it is one of the most influential
organizations in college basketball. It has selected a women's All-America
team since the 1996-97 season. For more information on the USBWA
and its award programs, contact executive director Joe Mitch at
Mary Jo Haverbeck Award