Conradt selected as 2008 Naismith Outstanding Contributors to Basketball award winners
ATLANTA -- Former University of Texas and Hall of Fame basketball coach Jody Conradt and longtime ESPN broadcaster Dick Vitale have been selected as the 2008 Naismith Women's and Men's Outstanding Contributor to Basketball recipients, respectively, the Atlanta Tipoff Club announced Friday. Created in 1982, the award pays tribute to the individuals who have made a significant impact on women's and men's college basketball.
Chosen by the Atlanta Tipoff Club's Board of Directors, Conradt and Vitale will be honored at the Atlanta Tipoff Club Naismith Awards banquet presented by Delta Airlines and Piedmont Heart Institute on Tuesday, March 25 at the Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre in Atlanta.
"Not only have Jody and Dick put decades of their lives into the sport, but they've done it with class, dignity and humility," said Gary Stokan, Atlanta Tipoff Club president. "We know that college basketball as a whole is better off from their involvement."
Last year's recipients were Kay Yow, North Carolina State women's basketball coach, and recently retired Texas Tech coach Bob Knight.
Conradt pursued her coaching passion for 38 years -- 31 at The University of Texas. She stepped aside from her coaching duties on March 12, 2007, bringing closure to an illustrious career as she retired after nearly four decades of collegiate coaching.
Her blueprint for a collegiate women's basketball program emphasized both academic achievement (99 percent graduation rate of her players) and on-court success (900 career coaching victories). Upon her retirement, Conradt was the No. 2 all-time winningest coach in men's and women's collegiate basketball history. Currently, she ranks No. 3 in all-time victories behind Tennessee's Pat Summitt and Knight (902 wins).
During her Texas tenure, Conradt developed 28 professional basketball players (who played in the USA and in Europe), four U.S. Olympians, three players who earned a total of 13 national player of the year honors and eight Kodak All-Americans. Her Texas student-athletes also earned four National Academic All-America awards and over 40 All-Conference Academic Team honors.
"She loved her work -- representing a great university, teaching the game of basketball and life lessons to talented, motivated young women, and helping validate the notion that women could compete and excel in sports," said Christine Plonsky, University of Texas Director of Women's Athletics. "Jody's career is not defined by wins or championships, but more by her commitment to excellence, her grace and class, and her reputation for caring about the personal development of young women."
Conradt's longevity and service have been rewarded by a myriad of honors.
In 1998, she became just the second woman inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Massachusetts, birth place of basketball. She also was a member of the inaugural 1999 class of inductees for the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame in Knoxville, Tennessee. Other honors include the International Women's Sports Hall of Fame sponsored by the Women's Sports Foundation (1995), the International Scholar-Athlete Hall of Fame in Kingston, Rhode Island (2003), and the Texas Sports Hall of Fame (1998).
As significant is her recognition alongside regional and national civic leaders in such honors as the Texas Women's Hall of Fame (1986), the Dallas Field Scovell Award and the Kansas City CASEY award which recognize her civic/community service and excellence in support of athletics and education.
In January of 2008, Conradt was honored with the prestigious "Giant Steps" award for her career-long advocacy and support for student-athletes, an award given by the National Consortium for Academics and Sports (NCAS).
Vitale, college basketball's top analyst and ambassador, joined ESPN during the 1979-80 season just after the network's September 1979 launch. His thorough knowledge of the game is brought forth in an enthusiastic, passionate, sometimes controversial -- but never boring -- style. He called ESPN's first-ever NCAA basketball game -- Wisconsin at DePaul on Dec. 5, 1979 (a 90-77 DePaul win). Since then, he's called close to a thousand games, including NBA contests for ESPN during the 1983 and '84 seasons.
Besides on-air broadcasts, Vitale is also a columnist for Basketball Times, has served as a guest columnist for USA Today since 1991, and has been a featured guest on virtually every sports radio station across the nation.
He was an assistant basketball coach at Rutgers University (1970-72), then head coach at the University of Detroit (1973-77). He compiled a winning percentage of .722 (78-30), which included a 21-game winning streak during the 1976-77 season when the team participated in the NCAA Tournament. In April 1977, Vitale was named athletic director at Detroit; in May of 1978, he was selected head coach of the NBA's Detroit Pistons, which he coached during the 1978-79 season prior to joining ESPN.
Vitale's philanthropic efforts are noteworthy. He annually awards five scholarships to the Boys & Girls Club of Sarasota (Fla.), and the program has been so successful that Vitale was inducted into the Sarasota's Boys and Girls Club Hall of Fame at the 2001 Dinner. In 2002, Sarasota Magazine named him one of the areas most influential citizens.
He's on the Board of Directors of The V Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to finding a cure for cancer and founded in 1993 by ESPN and the late Jim Valvano. He co-chairs with Mike Krzyzewski and John Saunders the annual V Foundation Golf Classic.
In 1998, he was awarded the Basketball Hall of Fame's prestigious Curt Gowdy Media Award, the Hall's highest honor bestowed upon a journalist outside of enshrinement. In 2000, Vitale was recognized with the NABC Cliff Wells Appreciation Award for outstanding service to the college basketball coaching community and college basketball in general, and in 2001, the College Sports Information Directors of America (COSIDA) presented him with the Jake Wade Award, for contributions to college athletics.
"Dick Vitale has made impressive contributions to the growth and popularity of the sport of basketball," said Norby Williamson, Executive Vice President, ESPN Production. "He richly deserves this prestigious honor as a beloved figure who combines unmatched passion with a deep knowledge of the game. He has been the face of the sport through three decades of coverage on ESPN and also has been a tireless contributor to the community."
For more information, visit NaismithAwards.com.
The Atlanta Tipoff Club, an Atlanta Sports Council property, is committed to promoting the game of basketball and recognizing the outstanding accomplishments of those who make the game so exciting. The Atlanta Tipoff Club has presented the Naismith Trophy since UCLA's Lew Alcindor first won the award in 1969. Old Dominion's Anne Donovan won the inaugural Women's Naismith Trophy in 1983.
The Naismith Award has become an emblem of excellence for the game, recognizing the Men's and Women's College Basketball Player of the Year, Men's and Women's College Basketball Coach of the Year, as well as awards for outstanding achievement in high school basketball, officiating, and overall contribution to the game.