Anne Donovan ('83) Selected as Naismith Outstanding Contributor to Basketball Winner

November 17, 2008
By ODU Athletics
ODU Sports

Nov. 17, 2008

Anne Donovan ('83) and Billy Packer Selected as Naismith Outstanding Contributors to Basketball Award Winners

ATLANTA (November 17, 2008) - Longtime women's college and professional basketball player, coach and Olympian Anne Donovan ('83), and decorated men's college basketball broadcaster Billy Packer have been selected as the Naismith Women's and Men's Outstanding Contributor to Basketball recipients, respectively, the Atlanta Tipoff Club announced today.

Created in 1982 the Naismith Outstanding Contributor to Basketball Award is presented annually to two individuals whose extraordinary efforts have made contributions of outstanding significance and have created a long-lasting positive impact on the game of basketball. The recipient display character, integrity and dignity, and have contributed mightily to the growth, success and viability of basketball. To be eligible, an individual must have been involved with the sport in a capacity related to coaching, broadcasting, college administration or the news media.

Chosen by the Atlanta Tipoff Club's Board of Directors, Donovan and Packer will be honored at the Atlanta Tipoff Club Naismith Awards banquet in March, 2009.

Last year's recipients were Jody Conradt and Dick Vitale.

"Anne and Billy have not only achieved excellence at the highest levels, but they have sustained it over several decades, making them deserving recipients of this prestigious award," said Gary Stokan, Atlanta Tipoff Club president. "They have been outstanding ambassadors of the game of basketball within their communities, universities and now the Naismith Awards family."

As a freshman, Donovan led Old Dominion to the 1979 National Championship and went on to win the inaugural Naismith Women's College Player of the Year award in 1983. She set school records for points (2,719), rebounds (1,976), and blocked shots (801), and seasonal marks for most games played (38), minutes played (1,159), field goals (377), and field goal percentage (.640). She averaged a double-double for her entire career, with 20 points and 14.5 rebounds per game.

Donovan went on to win Olympic gold medals in 1984 and 1988 as a player, and then played five seasons professionally in Japan and one in Italy. She was assistant coach at Old Dominion for six seasons and a coach at East Carolina for three. She coached professionally for nine seasons, with the Indiana Fever, Charlotte Sting, and the Seattle Storm. While with the Seattle Storm, she became the first female coach to win a WNBA title (2004), and the only person to have both played to a national women's college title and coached a team to a professional title. To cap off her amazing run, Donovan grabbed her third gold medal this past summer as head coach of the U.S. Women's Olympic Basketball team.

Donovan is a member of the Basketball Hall of Fame, the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame, the Virginia Sports Hall of Fame, the Old Dominion Sports Hall of Fame and the GTE/CoSIDA Academic All-American Hall of Fame. On Oct. 24, 2004, she was named by the Sun Belt Conference as its All-Time Women's Basketball Player.

A Bethlehem, Pennsylvania native, Packer attended Wake Forest University and played guard on the school's basketball team for his last three years, leading the Demon Deacons to two Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) titles and the 1962 Final Four. Upon graduation he briefly served as an assistant coach for his alma mater before he embarked on another career - broadcasting.

His foray into the profession began in 1972 when he called syndicated ACC games, and then worked one NCAA tournament game for NBC in 1974. A year later, NBC called him days before the tournament asking him to work one weekend, which turned into the entire tournament, including the 1975 NCAA Men's Championship game alongside Curt Gowdy, who won the inaugural Naismith Outstanding Contributor to Men's Basketball Award in 1982. Packer remained with NBC through 1981 and then switched to CBS, where he stayed through the 2008 Final Four, ending a streak of 34 straight Final Fours behind the microphone. He also covered ACC games on Raycom Sports, a division of Raycom Media.

Packer won a Sports Emmy Award in 1993 and in 2005, he received the Marvin Francis Award for "notable achievement and service in coverage of the ACC."

"Billy's knowledge of college basketball is far reaching and he will be forever identified with some of the greatest moments in the history of ACC Basketball and of the sport nationally," said ACC Commissioner John Swofford. "I know I join many throughout the Atlantic Coast Conference in congratulating him on this prestigious and well deserved honor."

"Anne Donovan is well deserving of this prestigious award. She has committed most of her life to the game of basketball and the success the USA Basketball women's program has seen over the last 30 years is in part due to Anne's contributions as a player, committee member and, most recently, as the head coach of the gold medal winning 2008 U.S. Olympic Team," said Jim Tooley, USA Basketball Executive Director. "She has been an outstanding ambassador for the United States, is always gracious towards her opponents and has helped grow the game here and abroad with class and dignity. She is highly respected not only in the United States, but in the international basketball world as well. All of us here at USA Basketball congratulate Anne on this tremendous honor."

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ABOUT THE ATLANTA TIPOFF CLUB 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.

Contact: Eric Oberman, Atlanta Tipoff Club (404) 586-8506