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Vol. 50, No. 2 • January 2013 • .pdf version
Shaheen, Katha Quinn: A perfect match
By JIM O'CONNELL / The Associated Press
Everyone who was at the 1988 USBWA breakfast in Kansas City remembers everything about that day. Things were a little bigger that year since it was the NCAA Tournament's 50th anniversary.
Katha Quinn made that an afterthought. She gave a speech so full of emotions – from laughter to anger – the room went silent. No-silverware-being-picked-up silent.
I was sitting behind Dave Gavitt, Lou Carnesecca and John Thompson. All three knew Katha very well. They knew her before her fight with liver cancer. They knew her as she kept working despite being in so much pain. Coach Carnesecca knew her the best. She was the person who made sure nobody messed with Chris Mullin. All three future Hall of Famers cried that morning.
Twenty-five years ago. Unbelievable.
This April, at the 75th anniversary celebration of the Final Four in Atlanta, the Katha Quinn Award will be presented to Greg Shaheen, former vice president of NCAA championships and alliances. When the title jargon was dynamited, he was the man who ran the NCAA Tournament. And he ran it very well. Unfortunately he only ran it until the last one.
There wasn't any big planned goodbye in New Orleans early last April. Shaheen left the Super Dome when the work was done on championship night. That wasn't fair in a lot of ways. If we were to check with Katha on any ground rules – she might have ordered Malcolm Moran to follow in serving as the award's caretaker – there aren't any that says the recipient must still have a working ID badge.
We can be that cutting-edge organization when called upon.
When the award is presented, there will be plenty said about why Shaheen deserved it. The biggest would be opening the tournament from the selection process (he brought the word "mock" out of mothballs) to expansion. It was his tournament and it was going to be run the right way. It was always fun to watch him attack some poor soul through a cell phone over stats not being distributed properly at a site across the country.
I was about to give the details of Shaheen's early career and the stuff you read in every story like this. Not here.
Greg Shaheen is getting this award from the people he worked with, not for. Some people in the USBWA have had some great dialogues with him over the years, even one which made the ASAP transcript at the Final Four. You can't argue that he didn't at least listen and then try to help if he could. He did answer emails, some it seemed even before they were even sent. Katha Quinn and Greg Shaheen are names that should be linked. Now they are.
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