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Vol. 56, No. 2 • January 2019 • .pdf version
Villanova's Sheridan wins Katha Quinn Award
In 1994, Mike Sheridan was working for the monthly publication Eastern Basketball when he decided to author a story featuring the top programs on the East Coast. Hofstra, which had experienced an extended downturn, did not make Sheridan's article. So the school's recently hired basketball coach, an ambitious 33-year-old rookie named Jay Wright, sent Sheridan a friendly letter remarking upon the omission, and asking Sheridan to keep an eye on Wright's program in the future.
Today, that letter is stuck to a bulletin board in Sheridan's office at Villanova, where he serves as the school's assistant athletic director for communications. Wright, of course, is now the head coach at Villanova. Every time he walks into Sheridan's office, he sees that letter.
"It's kind of a running joke we have," Sheridan said. "His point was that it helped them. He was able to bring my article to his AD and say, 'Eastern Basketball doesn't know we exist.'"
Sheridan worked for 14 years at Eastern Basketball and its parent publication, Basketball Times, before coming to Villanova in 1998. The lessons he learned during that period were invaluable as he navigated the welcome but considerable challenges that came with being at a program that has won two NCAA championships in the last three years. Sheridan's patience, diligence, helpfulness and sunny personality have earned him the USBWA's Katha Quinn Award, which is given annually in recognition for the recipient's work in serving the media.
Sheridan was always a basketball fan while growing up in Monsey, N.Y. He had the fortune to be a student at Fordham as its program was just about to experience a rebirth under coach Tom Penders. After graduating from Fordham's communications program, Sheridan was scooped up by Basketball Times, which was run by publisher/editor Larry Donald out of its Troy, Mich., headquarters.
Like everyone else who worked at Basketball Times (including Dan Wetzel, now the lead columnist at Yahoo sports), Sheridan's responsibilities included writing, editing, design, and even ad sales from time to time. The desire to move closer to his East Coast roots and experience other areas of sports led Sheridan to Villanova in the summer of 1998, but he has never totally untethered himself from his writers' roots.
"I've always tried to keep those days in mind," he said. "I think it gave me an appreciation for some of the challenges that people face in this business."
When Sheridan learned he had won this award, one of the first things he thought about was the trip he took in December 1984 to St. John's, where Katha Quinn, the school's late sports information director, helped him report a story on the Chris Mullin-led team that eventually reached the Final Four.
The award is named after Quinn, who as the sports information director at St. John's was recognized for supervising the basketball venue during the 1987 Pan American Games at Market Square Arena in Indianapolis. Earlier that year, she was diagnosed with liver cancer, but she refused to allow her condition to affect her commitment. Quinn continued her work at St. John's until less than a month before her passing in March 1989, one day before her birthday, at the age of 35.
Sheridan also thought about Donald, a former USBWA president who passed away in 2000 at the age of 55.
"He just loved being a part of the USBWA," Sheridan said.
Sheridan has taken a remarkable and unique journey from ink-stained scribe to assistant AD, but in many ways, he remains true to the principles he held when he got out of Fordham. That gives him a special appreciation for what he has experienced the last few years.
"I know this award wouldn't be possible without the success of Villanova and also the way Jay is with the media," he said. "To have a front row seat to two championships, and to interact with some of the athletes and everyone else who was a part of that, it's just been an incredible experience. I knew when I came here that I was going into a good situation, and that has never changed."
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