USBWA names award after former Penn State SID Mary Jo Haverbeck

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- In addition to naming its national women's award winners, the United States Basketball Writers Association (USBW) also announced that a new award will join the lineup next season. The Mary Jo Haverbeck Award will be the women's version of the Katha Quinn Award on the USBWA men's side given to those who provide special service to USBWA or sportswriters - in this instance - covering women's basketball.

Haverbeck was a longtime Penn State sports information director in women's basketball who died in January after a brief illness.

"When we began to put names on awards, we had already decided Mary Jo would be honored with this one and we were waiting to see if we could get her back to a Final Four to surprise her," said Mel Greenberg, the USBWA coordinator for women's basketball. "While we could not get the honor in place quick enough while Mary Jo lived, we are thrilled to establish a lasting memory to her from USBWA. Special thanks to Malcolm Moran and Jim O'Connell, who founded the Katha Quinn Award for their support of the Haverbeck Award creation on our side,"

"Mary Jo played a instrumental role in helping increase the awareness of women's athletics and growing the following of women's basketball among the general public and the media in Pennsylvania and nationally," said Jeff Nelson, Penn State assistamt athletic director for communcations.

"Mary Jo saw the potential draw of women's basketball as a great opportunity to increase media exposure for the sport and she was passionate and persistent in building relationships with regional and national media to further boost interest in the sport, while she was at Penn State and after her "retirement."

"Everyone who was fortunate enough to know Mary Jo is very appreciative of the USBWA for creating this well-deserved honor in recognition of Mary Jo and her important role in the growth of women's basketball," Nelson said.

Former ESPN executive Rosa Gatti was among some of Haverbeck's contemporaries who spoke at the arena.

Haverbeck also served a long stint on the NCAA's SID staff under Rick Nixon at the women's finals. After her retirement she wrote for Blue White Illustrated, a magazine covering Penn State.

CoSIDA recently announced her name would be put on the organization's Trailblazer Award while on Monday Penn State women's coach Coquese Washington on Haverbeck's behalf will accept the Women's Basketball Coaches Association's Mel Greenberg Media Award that goes to an individual in the various media professions who positively inpacts coverage of women's basketball.

The U.S. Basketball Writers Association was formed in 1956 at the urging of then-NCAA Executive Director Walter Byers. With some 900 members worldwide, it is one of the most influential organizations in college basketball. For more information on the USBWA and its award programs, contact executive director Joe Mitch at 314-795-6821. 

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Last Updated April 10, 2014