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Vol. 43, No. 3 • March 2006 • .pdf version
By TONY BARNHART / Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Perhaps it's a function of age, but it doesn't seem that long ago that we were leaving St. Louis and talking about the things we wanted to get done over the next 12 months. Now, in the blink of an eye, we'll be together in Indianapolis and be making our plans for Atlanta in 2007. Wow!
When we gather on April 3, it will be my honor to pass the gavel to Tom Shatel, a very active and enthusiastic vice-president. When you sit in this chair, you appreciate that.
Let me update you about where the USBWA has been since St. Louis and where we hope to go in 2006-07:
• Through the efforts of everybody, we continue to steadily build our membership. The word has gotten out that there are a lot of tangible benefits (Marriott VIP card, handbook) for those who join the USBWA.
We have found that the media workroom at the Final Four is a great recruiting ground. So I'm going to ask that each USBWA member identify two people from his or her state who are not members and physically put a membership application in their hand (you can print it out from the website). Take one minute to explain why he or she should be a member of the USBWA. And remind them that the entire process can be done on line, if that is their choice.
And one more thing. We must make every effort to recruit more women and people of color. We have to reach out to them and make them feel welcome and comfortable.
• Change is always a little scary and we are undergoing some change with David Worlock taking over for Bill Hancock as the head of media operations at the Final Four. Several of us have reached out to David, who drew high marks for his handling of the College World Series, to let him know that the USBWA stands ready to help with the transition. David assured me that the media ops for this Final Four will follow the blueprint left behind by Bill, who has assured me that he will help David in any way he can.
In my conversation with David, I explained that the USBWA has always felt that it had a partner in the person occupying his chair. From Dave Cawood to Jim Marchiony to Bill Hancock, the person in that job understood the role of the media and, when it was appropriate, was our advocate. I told David that we looked forward to having the same relationship with him, and he embraced that idea.
Accordingly, we have invited David to all our functions in Indianapolis. If you have the opportunity, please visit with him for a couple of minutes while you're in Indy.
• We hope to have more consistent access to wireless internet during this tournament. Please note your experience (what it costs, how reliable, etc.) and pass that information on to Rob Daniels of the Greensboro News & Record (firstname.lastname@example.org). Rob will then file a report to Tom, and we'll see where we go from there.
A word of warning: There are going to be some inconsistencies throughout the tournament. Hancock worked hard to get everybody on the same page with the idea of free or inexpensive wireless, but some buildings that already had contracts in place were a bit stubborn in the negotiations.
So instead of screaming at the local host (unless that is what it takes to get things fixed), just funnel the info through Rob, and we will present our findings to the NCAA.
• On Friday morning before the semifinals, Joe Mitch and I will be hosting our annual breakfast, where we will present the Oscar Robertson Award. Tom Shatel will chair our annual meeting with the Men's Basketball Committee. If you have specific issues that you feel must be raised with the committee, send Tom an e-mail at email@example.com. That will help Tom put his agenda together prior to the meeting. The e-mails can include problems with first- and second-round plus regional final sites. Be very specific about the problem and whether or not anyone tried to fix them.
• And finally, one of the things I want to do as I hand the gavel to Tom is have a very good sense of the USBWA's relationship with the Men's Basketball Committee. Obviously, we are all concerned about where the Final Four is headed in terms of access and our seating on the floor. We have several friends on the committee who understand the importance of what we do and why it is important to have us on the floor. The goal here has to be to better help them understand that this organization has played a significant role in the growth of the NCAA Tournament.
They also must understand that our desire to remain on the floor during the Final Four is not born out of a feeling of entitlement but is based on our strong belief that the USBWA and the media outlets that we represent have contributed significantly to the success of the NCAA Tournament. In short, staying on the floor may be good for us, but it is also in college basketball's best interests.
There you have it. Thanks for all your help during what has been a very fast 12 months. I'll see you in Indy. Last one to St. Elmo's has to buy the shrimp cocktail.
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