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Vol. 47, No. 3 • March 2010 • .pdf version
With few expectations, USBWA led to more than imagined
By STEVE CARP / Las Vegas Review-Journal
Where did the time go?
It seems like yesterday that we were in chilly Detroit at the Final Four and Dick Jerardi was handing the reins over to me to be president of the USBWA. He told me not to worry, that I would have a lot of fun and it would be a great experience.
He was right.
When I joined this organization many years ago, it was never with the intention of being on the board. Certainly, I never anticipated being president. I was a college basketball writer at the Las Vegas Sun, I had friends and colleagues who were in the USBWA and when they suggested I join, I figured, "Sure, why not?"
Over time, one thing led to another. My good friend Ed Graney, who was covering San Diego State at the time for the San Diego Union-Tribune and is now my colleague at the Las Vegas Review-Journal as our lead columnist, suggested that I become a district representative. I had no idea what that entailed, but he assured me that it would be easy and not all that time consuming.
That would eventually lead to him prodding me to join the USBWA board. That happened four years ago. Fast forward to today and shortly, I'll be just another USBWA member, reading someone else's Tipoff column reminding me how important it is to vote for the all-district and All-America teams.
I had a couple of goals in mind when I took over for Dick. One was to try and get more people involved in the USBWA (isn't that every president's goal?), particularly college student newspapers. They are our future, and we need to include them in our organization and make them feel welcome. Otherwise, I fear we one day won't have an organization.
That's exaggerating things some. But you get the point. New blood is critical, and as I leave the board, I once again ask you to encourage the young people you encounter on your beat who covers the team you do for their student newspaper to join the USBWA.
Did we get more people involved? Absolutely. We had over 920 members this year, a record. And I want to thank each and every one of you for your participation. We all know the tough economic times we're going through and how the newspaper industry is suffering greatly. On behalf of the board, we appreciate your support.
I would be remiss without thanking Ted Gangi for his efforts to try and bring in new members. Ted worked tirelessly on broadening our base, and he did a heck of a job. He also constantly updated the Web site, something we also hoped to accomplish this year by providing fresh information. Not daily, but every week or so with our Oscar Robertson Award watch list and National Player of the Week honor.
My other hope was to improve our working conditions, whether it was courtside seating, access to players and coaches, having statistics provided in a timely fashion and just in general making the experience of covering a college basketball game better.
I know there were a couple of issues that cropped up over the course of the year that we tried to resolve or wound up getting resolved on their own. But we have a lot of SIDs who are members, and virtually all of them understand the needs of those who cover their teams. I'd say the vast majority do a great job and try to work with their writers to resolve whatever conflicts might arise.
There might have been additional problems that I was not aware of, but my advice to all of you is that if a situation ever comes up and you need the USBWA's help, by all means, contact the board. I can't promise that the matter will be resolved to your satisfaction, but we'll certainly look into it for you and assist wherever we can.
In a perfect world, we'd all sit front row courtside, have 100 percent access to players and coaches whenever we wanted, have a printed media guide next to our computer and the wireless connection would be as strong as Hercules.
Unfortunately, that is not the case. So we have to learn to be flexible, learn to be patient, learn to deal with the big business that is today's college hoops world and make covering the game the best experience possible.
How do we get there? By working together, by being reasonable with our requests and keeping the lines of communications open with those we deal with, be it the individual school, a conference or the NCAA itself.
The USBWA continues to have strong working relationship with Greg Shaheen and David Worlock of the NCAA. They do listen when we speak and they understand what "compromise" means.
My hope is that spirit of cooperation will continue through the rest of 2010 and beyond and that others will continue to fight the good fight on your behalf.
It has been an honor and a privilege to serve as the USBWA's president and when I look at the list of names that I am part of, I'm still stunned by it.
Thanks to all of you for this opportunity. Thanks to the USBWA board and district reps who did a great job this year.
Thanks to Helen Heugel of the Missouri Valley Conference, who made sure our record membership was accounted for and taken care of.
And to Joe Mitch, who is the glue guy of this organization and the heart and soul of the USBWA, special thanks for making this such a wonderful experience. If you're wondering why this thing works as smoothly as it does, look no further than Joe.
Enjoy March Madness. See you in Indianapolis!
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