A Fairfield University basketball Tip Off event this Thursday (Oct. 24) at the University Club (1 West 54th Street) in New York City will also serve to honor two of the true giants of the media industry.
Longtime New York Daily News columnist Dick "Hoops" Weiss and Associated Press National College writer Jim "OC" O'Connell will be honored as the inaugural recipients of Fairfield University Basketball's "Stags Lifetime Achievement Ward: Leader of the Herd," for long and meritorious service.
The event will be held from 6 to 8 p.m. Tickets, are priced at a very reasonable $25 for general admission. Tickets and more information can be obtained by calling Pat Murphy (203-254-4000, ext. 2102), or on line at Faiirfield's website.
Your Hoopscribe can't claim a close friendship with either O'Connell or Weiss, but there's connection enough to know that both are terrific representatives of their profession.
O'Connell has been a go-to source whenever I wrote about any issue of national significance over the years, and could not have been more accommodating with his time, opinions and insights.
Weiss operates mostly on the high-major end of college basketball, one that mid-major level programs don't regularly approach. But, we've shared a press-room table with Weiss a few times. The first was at an NCAA tournament more than a decade ago when a mutual friend offered to introduce me. The introduction turned into about an hour-long discussion of the sport, and there aren't many more enjoyable ways to spend time.
Both are true veteran professionals and each is extremely accommodating with their time and insights to younger (and, in this case, older) reporter/writers.
And, it goes without saying that very few have covered college basketball as well as O'Connell and Weiss.
Each has already received the Curt Gowdy Award to enshrinement in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, and they have a combined 80 years of award-winning coverage of college hoops including a total of 77 NCAA tournaments.
The inaugural plaques honoring O'Connell and Weiss will be permanently displayed both in the Fairfield athletics office and the Fairfield Stags Club in the Webster Bank Arena, the program's home court, in Bridgeport, Ct.
At the event, school men's coach Sydney Johnson and women's coach Joe Frager will participate in the presentation to the writers for their "distinguished service and lifetime achievement with accuracy and journalistic integrity, while keeping the efforts of the student-athletes at the forefront."
WFAN Radio update reporter Bob Heussler, who also does play-by-lay for Fairfield games, will serve as the event's master of ceremonies.
Heussler will also lead a panel discussion with fellow WFAN personalities Marc Malusis and Rich Ackerman following the awards presentation. The trio will discuss college basketball and other current sports topics.
"We are delighted to honor the accomplishments and careers of "Hoops" and "OC," true legends in their own time," said Fairfield athletic director Gene Doris. "These two senior members of the basketball writers have furthered college basketball and the student athletes during their distinguished careers.
"They have served their profession in exemplary fashion with style and grace that is a model for aspiring sports writers and for student-athletes as their prepare for their post-college careers."