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.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

On the Passing of Longtime NCAA and WNBA Referee Bonita Spence

Updating with statement from NCAA's Anucha Browne

By Mel Greenberg

Because of the number of notes sent the Guru's way Monday about the news of the passing of longtime and highly respected NCAA and WNBA women's referee Bonita Spence, this is a short piece for now to provide what amounts to an answer for the moment and to make brief note of her career.

But you should know the Guru tapped into his email networks in the conferences, the NCAA itself, and the WNBA to request and collect from all those who wish to contribute some remembrances and stories that are longer than 140 character twitter notes and as soon as enough time elapses to allow responses to come this way, the Guru will offer a larger celebration of her life.

Since this arrived a little while ago from the NCAA, here's a statement now from Anucha Browne.

"We were deeply saddened when we heard the news of Bonita Spence’s passing yesterday. I had personally known Bonita since high school and had always admired her integrity and spirit.

" Her long-time officiating career, numerous NCAA championships and her mentoring of many young officials will help carry her legacy forward in the game. We offer our sincere condolences to Bonita’s family and friends.”

-Anucha Browne
NCAA Vice President, Women’s Basketball Championships


But this is how Monday rolled in terms of the news business because when the Guru was playing catch-up on twitter from taking shuteye in the mid-morning hours, he thought he was behind the news in seeing a few RIP tweets pop up and then after he added his own quick reaction tweet he found that his tweet became breaking news to many followers and went viral.

The Guru was also tied up in non-basketball matters during the day and didn't get on the case until early Monday night.

The news of Bonita's passing came as shock to most because there had been no report of her being presently ill or had there been a report in the past that would make one think that whatever she was suffering with had flared up again.

There was no report of Bonita being a victim of crime or involved with injuries from some mishap -- auto or whatever.

You should know back in the Guru's active days in-house at The Inquirer in doing rewrite to get wire stories into the roundups, whenever the Guru would see a report of the passing of a noteworthy person, he would always be asked by the editor in charge if it did not appear, what was the cause of his or hers passing.

And if he replied the reports didn't have it, he was then asked to hunt around for a while, even make calls if there were potential sources, and if that effort failed, then a sentence would be inserted, saying the cause of his or her passing was not immediately known.

If it was known that the family didn't want a specific but gave some indication we might delicately say after a long or short illness.

So in this situation in writing this at sunrise -- the Guru was also working overnight on updating the coaching carousel blog with the hire at San Jose State, which is a delicate maneuver in the apps he must use -- baring something out there he hasn't seen, for the moment the answer to the most common question asked is the cause of Bonita's passing is not immediately known.

The Guru contacted several persons who he thought would be in position to have some information and they, too, had no knowledge and one source even noted in the call the Guru made at 9 p.m. that even Bonita's referring colleagues had no information.

The only information in the way of a report was at a newer nontraditional website and that was a well-written roundup of everything we were saying and made no mention of a cause. That became the source and only source of a later burst of tweets.

In talking to a Guru source, he mentioned that a coach had responded in the affirmative when asked on twitter if Bonita had been ill but the source said that may not be true and several rumors are out there.

So that is the long and short answer from a news standpoint since the Guru is here to serve when possible.

But for now, first as the women's board representative of the United States Basketball Writers Associatiion (USBWA), on behalf of the organization, the Guru offers condolences to all of Bonita's family and friends.

On a personal note, the Guru can say he knew Bonita quite well and at many games she usually came over before the tip to say hello during warmups or during a long TV timeout may ask about a big game going on elsewhere at the same time.

She cared about her profession but also cared about the game not only in the 40-minutes and overtime of action but of the players, coaches and everyone else around the sport.

The Guru heard one story Monday night that will be incorporated and enahnced in the bigger blog to come of how every year at the time of the former Big East tournament in Hartford there would be one of those fun games played in front of no one -- this one between the staffs of the Big East and XL Center -- and Bonita if assigned to the tournament would usually volunteer to be one of the referees.

She was on the crew during the infamous clockgate controversy in Knoxville between Rutgers and Tennessee when the game should have been over in Rutgers' favor but a freeze of the clock allowed enough time that a foul was called and Tennessee went to the line and won the game.

The ESPN replay of the nationally-televised game showed the error.

After universal condemnation of the crew it was learned a few days later that Spence told the other two officials who were deciding anything but the error to look at the monitor and she was waved off the by the other two -- who, by the way, continued to work deep into the NCAA tournament that season a month later.

Several days after that game the Guru was covering a non-descript contest in a lower mid-major conference and Bonita showed up as part of the crew and came over prior to the tip to give a friendly greeting.

The Guru, knowing she was at the big-time level of referees in terms of games and conferences worked, jokingly asked if her being in the arena was punishment.
Bonita just gave a certain body gesture amounting to don't look at me, which appeared to give creedence to that report.

To this day when that game comes up in certain circles, no one has ever countered to say the report was false.

So that is what the Guru had in mind when he noted in Monday's tweet that Bonita had integrity.

What is a testament was the wide number of reponses to Monday's news from players and coaches on their tweeter accounts.

So for now that is all that can be said here, but look for a larger celebration in the next week and the Guru suspects some of his colleagues will also be offering coverage.

-- Mel

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

10 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Rest in Peace, Bonita. You were loved, respected, and admired by many female referees. You were a true role model. Thank you from a member of the last all female referee board in NJ, the now defunct Shore Board #4. You helped make us strong for many years.

3:14 PM  
Anonymous Agnus Berenato said...

Bonita was what we all want in a referee, role model, educator and was a great lady. Her smile and court side chatter will be missed by coaches, student athletes, and fans alike. I see you smiling Bonita! Agnus Berenatob

4:30 PM  
Anonymous Lin Dunn said...

What I loved about Bonita Spence, the referee, was that she officiated with great expertise, poise and composure! She knew the " game" came first ...not her! I 've been coaching in the women's game for 43 years and I can't think of an official I respected more than her! It's a HUGE loss for our women's game to lose the best of the best! My condolences to her family and friends. Lin Dunn

2:12 PM  
Blogger Lin Huang said...

caihuanglin20150528
polo ralph lauren
coach outlet
michael kors
coach outlet store online
michael kors outlet
jordan 4
louis vuitton handbags
jordan 3
jordan 13
christian louboutin
abercrombie store
abercrombie
concords 11
gucci outlet
cheap toms
ray ban glasses
michael kors
kate spade outlet
football jerseys
louis vuitton outlet stores
coach factory outlet online
kobe shoes
polo ralph lauren
oakley sunglasses
ghd hair strighteners
gucci outlet
p90x workouts
christian louboutin outlet
timberlands
jordan 11 low
adidas outlet
louis vuitton handbags
ray ban sunglass
cheap jerseys
michael kors outlet
christian louboutin sale
hermes
tory burch outlet
toms outlet
hollister clothing

10:55 PM  
Blogger chenlina said...

chenlina20150706
fitflops clearance
burberry outlet
abercrombie outlet
discount oakley sunglasses
kobe bryant shoes
christian louboutin outlet
louis vuitton outlet
mulberry handbags
louis vuitton outlet
michael kors
jordan retro 11
true religion sale
hollister kids
ray ban glasses
gucci bags
burberry outlet
birkin bags
cheap chi straighteners
chanel outlet online
kate spade outlet
jordan pas cher femme
coach outlet
true religion outlet
michael kors handbags
longchamp outlet
cheap ran bans
michael kors outlet online
michael kors handbags
jordan 3 powder blue
hollister
louis vuitton handbags
polo outlet
red timberland boots
jordan 11 columbia
insanity workout
jordan 11 snakeskin
louis vuitton
louis vuitton outlet
michael kors outlet
christian louboutin outlet

3:14 AM  
Blogger ninest123 Ninest said...

ninest123 10.08
nike free, michael kors, christian louboutin, oakley sunglasses, nike outlet, nike air max, ray ban sunglasses, louis vuitton outlet online, uggs on sale, michael kors handbags, chanel handbags, burberry outlet, louis vuitton handbags, tory burch outlet, ray ban sunglasses, kate spade, uggs on sale, louboutin shoes, replica watches, tiffany jewelry, michael kors outlet online, cheap oakley sunglasses, longchamp outlet, ralph lauren polo, prada outlet, ray ban sunglasses, ralph lauren outlet, tiffany jewelry, christian louboutin, longchamp outlet, oakley sunglasses, burberry factory outlet, prada handbags, michael kors outlet, gucci handbags, louboutin uk, cheap jordans, replica watches, louis vuitton, oakley sunglasses, michael kors outlet store, oakley sunglasses, uggs on sale, uggs outlet, louis vuitton outlet, michael kors outlet online, nike air max, uggs outlet

2:17 AM  
Blogger ninest123 Ninest said...

converse, longchamp pas cher, nike air max, coach outlet store online, longchamp soldes, hogan sito ufficiale, new balance, coach purses, nike roshe uk, hollister uk, vans pas cher, nike air max pas cher, lunette oakley pas cher, michael kors outlet online, burberry pas cher, abercrombie and fitch UK, polo ralph lauren uk, vanessa bruno pas cher, mulberry uk, abercrombie and fitch, hermes pas cher, true religion jeans, michael kors, coach outlet, nike roshe run pas cher, michael kors uk, coach outlet, true religion outlet, lululemon outlet, nike air max uk, nike air max uk, ralph lauren pas cher, nike free, north face uk, polo lacoste pas cher, true religion outlet, nike air force, north face pas cher, nike free pas cher, kate spade outlet, nike tn pas cher, nike blazer pas cher, louboutin pas cher, timberland pas cher, true religion outlet, sac guess pas cher, jordan pas cher, ray ban uk, lunette ray ban pas cher

2:20 AM  
Blogger ninest123 Ninest said...

nike trainers uk, nike air max, lululemon outlet, nike roshe run, salvatore ferragamo, soccer shoes, ghd hair, beats by dre, new balance shoes, louboutin, nike air huarache, mcm handbags, softball bats, vans scarpe, polo ralph lauren, abercrombie and fitch, wedding dresses, babyliss pro, abercrombie, chi flat iron, converse shoes outlet, hollister clothing, herve leger, instyler ionic styler, p90x workout, ray ban, oakley, converse, mac cosmetics, hollister, longchamp uk, jimmy choo outlet, valentino shoes, iphone cases, north face outlet, bottega veneta, soccer jerseys, hermes handbags, vans outlet, giuseppe zanotti, asics running shoes, nfl jerseys, reebok outlet, gucci, celine handbags, mont blanc, insanity workout, nike air max, north face outlet, timberland boots, michael kors, longchamp bags

2:22 AM  
Blogger ninest123 Ninest said...

canada goose jackets, ugg uk, toms shoes, swarovski jewelry, barbour jackets uk, doke & gabbana, moncler pas cher, moncler jackets, moncler, montre pas cher, ugg,uggs,uggs canada, canada goose outlet, links of london uk, moncler outlet, pandora charms, canada goose uk, moncler uk, michael kors outlet, pandora uk, louis vuitton, marc jacobs, ugg,ugg australia,ugg italia, pandora jewelry, canada goose jackets, ugg pas cher, moncler, thomas sabo uk, juicy couture outlet, canada goose, barbour, canada goose pas cher, karen millen uk, hollister, michael kors outlet online, sac louis vuitton, michael kors handbags, wedding dresses uk, sac louis vuitton, coach outlet, louis vuitton, bottes ugg pas cher, juicy couture outlet, swarovski uk, moncler, canada goose, pandora jewelry, louis vuitton uk, lancel, replica watches, canada goose outlet, moncler
ninest123 10.08

2:31 AM  
Blogger mmjiaxin said...

swarovski crystal
camisetas futbol baratas
rolex watches,rolex watches,swiss watches,watches for men,watches for women,omega watches,replica watches,rolex watches for sale,rolex replica,rolex watch,cartier watches,rolex submariner,fake rolex,rolex replica watches,replica rolex
true religion jeans
tods outlet
true religion outlet
mulberry handbags
tiffany and co
ysl outlet
fitflops uk
michael kors canada
burberry outlet online
ralph lauren outlet
michael kors outlet
lacoste pas cher
louis vuitton bags cheap
barbour jackets
ugg boots
black friday deals
burberry outlet
mm1225

10:40 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home