Womhoops Guru

Mel Greenberg covered college and professional women’s basketball for the Philadelphia Inquirer, where he worked for 40 plus years. Greenberg pioneered national coverage of the game, including the original Top 25 women's college poll. His knowledge has earned him nicknames such as "The Guru" and "The Godfather," as well as induction into the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame in 2007.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Guru College Report: Tennessee's Jennings' Past WBCA Media Award In Prestigious Company

By Mel Greenberg

The Guru would like to take a quick time out to offer some brief comments on how dismayed he is over the current situation regarding longtime Tennessee women's basketball sports information director Debby Jennings, who apparently was forced into retirement.

Before going on, the Guru makes two disclaimers and one reference. For those that need to get up to speed, either go to the website of the Knoxville News-Sentinel to see ongoing coverage and also to a recent commentary by ESPN's Mechelle Voepel, much of which the Guru concurs so he will not repeat what has already been offered.

The Guru will admit he does not see the day-to-day workings inside the Tennessee athletic department, which has been one of the last to merge its women's and men's operations. But he is also aware of persons who have been Mel Greenberg media award winners in all walks of life who have had somewhat similar type experiences in different means in terms of operations downsizing and consolidating.

He also adds that the Guru and Jennings go back to Day One when both were starting together -- the Guru trying to create what became the AP women's poll and Jennings working as a liason between the media and the Lady Vols, most importantly the wome's basketball program and legendary coach Pat Summitt.

Thus a great friendship was forged over the years but just as important a great working relationship.

The Guru would add, though Jennings had to be extra overloaded coming down the stretch of season -- how far will the Lady Vols advance in the NCAA tournament? What is the future of Summitt, who is battling early onset dementia/Alzheimer's type? -- she was extremely helpful and efficent in keeping the Guru up to speed in terms of the situation in Denver in which the United States Basketball Writers Association (USBWA) was going to present its Most Courageous Award to Summitt and then announce the award will be named for her to present to all future winners.
Jennings related Summitt was only going to be in Denver briefly but set up access to Holly Warlick, who has since become the new coach with Summitt becoming coach emeritus.

All parties involved were able to go back-and-forth so the Guru could get in contact with Warlick at the Women's Final Four to give her time and specifics on accepting the award on Summitt's behalf.

Now since Jennings has been talked about in terms of honors, the Guru would like to make a little correction to the reported record of one award and also run a list of winners to show what fine company she is in.

Jennings, who won the Women's Basketball Coaches Association Mel Greenberg Media Award, was not the first winner -- she was the sixth, but she was the first sports information director honored following representatives of several media organizations.

The Guru was the first winner of what was simply called the media award but then the late North Carolina State coach Kay Yow in 1991 in New Orleans announced at the moment of presentation that future winners will win the WBCA Mel Greenberg Media Award.

Here are some other winners in rough chronologically order though you can see the whole list at the WBCA website.

Following the Guru:

Incidentally, to note a comon thread he begins by saying the Guru is no longer on board at The Philadelphia Inquirer but does do freelance work when needed. He left on good terms but, as the highest seniority employee in the newsroom and the fate of the paper at the time of his departure, finances dictated that it was time to go after som 40 plus years.

Debbie Becker -- Then the principal women's basketball writer at USA Today.
Jane Burns -- At the time, the Des Moines Register women's basketball writer covering Drake, Iowa, Iowa State among others.
Mimi Griffin -- Then a principal ESPN analyst who now runs an important men's golf tournament near her home in Allentown, Pa., near Philadelphia.
Debby Jennings
The late Mitch Parkinson -- Was the women's SID at Southern Illinois
Mary Gaber -- One of the nation's original female sportswriters, if not the original, who was at the Winston-Salem Journal in North Carolina. The Guru had the honor of meeting her in his early days covering N.C. State.
Ann Meyers-Drysdale -- At the time the principal analyst for ESPN. The Hall of Famer is now an executive with the WNBA Phoenix Mercury. The UCLA grad is also in the Naismith and Women's Basketball Halls of Fame, among others, and recently the USBWA announced its women's player of the year and newly-instituted national player of the year would be named after her.
Vic Dorr -- Longtime writer at the Richmond Times-Dispatch, who, though still employed, has been downsized, so to speak, in recent seasons in terms of national breadth of women's coverage.
Robin Roberts -- No explanation needed except to say that next month she will join the Guru as the second media type inductee into the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame.
Bob Kenny -- Now retired but was sports editor at the Camden Courier Post across the Delaware River from Philadelphia providing women's coverage well before the Guru came on the scene.
Mechelle Voepel -- ESPN. Nothing further needed because you all know her work.
Tamara Flarup -- At the time the Women's Basketball SID at Wisconsin.
Bill Jauss -- Now retired but was the women's basketball writer at the Chicago Tribune.
Debbie Antonellii -- Women's Basketball analyst everywhere who won in spite of campaigning in hotel lobbies for several years. -- A little Guru humor.
Dan Fleser -- The Tennessee beat writer for the Knoxville News-Sentinel.
Chuck Schoffner -- Now retired but was the first in-house national Associated Press women's writer following the Guru running the operation from his Inquirer base. Future winner, some day without a doubt, Doug Feinberg now does the heavy lifting.
Dick Patrick -- Had been the USA national women's writer but several months prior to his presentation was laid off in one of many cutdowns by the Gannett Chain.
Carol Stiff -- ESPN executive. She's the reason you get to see the games you do on TV.
Mike Carmin -- Most recent winner. Lafayette Journal and Courier principal and longtime Purdue women's basketball writer.

That's it for now. The Guru doesn't know -- it's doubtful -- he will be back in Connecticut Friday night for the San Antonio Silver Stars visit only because of the turnaround to get to Washington Saturday night for the Mystics game again st the Tulsa Shock.

Draft speculators -- take note -- This Saturday game is the first of a bunch that good feed into breaking ties in the four-team draft lottery yielding a bunch of you know whos next April.

-- Mel
- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

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