Ann Meyers-Drysdale Earns USSA Ronald Reagan Media Award
Jan. 14, 2006
ESPN analyst and former UCLA basketball legend Ann Meyers-Drysdale joined a group of legends in sports journalism by winning the United States Sports Academy's Ronald Reagan Media Award. Meyers-Drysdale will receive her medallion at the July 22, 2006 USSA graduation ceremony in Daphne, Alabama.
Meyers-Drysdale, a television sports commentator for 26 years and a pioneer in women's basketball, joins an elite group of winners that includes Howard Cosell, Bob Costas, Keith Jackson, Frank Deford and Rupert Murdoch. Visit http://www.asama.org/awards/MedallionSeries for more information.
The 2006 Reagan Award winner began her career as a color commentator for the NBA's Indiana Pacers in 1979. She joined ESPN in 1983 as an analyst for various events, including men and women's college basketball. She has also covered the Olympic Games for CBS and NBC.
As a player, Meyers-Drysdale was the first woman ever to try out for an NBA team when she signed as a free agent with the Indiana Pacers in 1979. She was also the first player drafted in the Women's Professional Basketball League (WBL), an entity that lasted three years as a 1970s and 80s forerunner to the WNBA.
After being released from the Pacer squad, Meyers played in the WBL during its third season. She was the league MVP while playing for the New Jersey Gems.
As an amateur, she represented the United States in the 1976 Olympics, 1975 and '79 Pan American Games and the 1975 and '79 World Championships. She was a four-time All-American at UCLA, leading the Bruins to a national championship in 1978. She also competed in volleyball and track at UCLA.
Her interest in broadcasting began as a student at UCLA, where she announced UCLA games and was encouraged by a professor there to continue in that direction. The second stage of her media career occurred in Indianapolis. Since her contract was a personal service contract, the Pacers employed her for a year even though she was cut from the team.
Meyers-Drysdale provided color commentary for the Pacer broadcasts at a time when women in the sports media were rare.
'The play-by-play announcers were used to working the booth by themselves,' she said. 'Now not only was there another person there but a woman. I'm sure that was an adjustment.'
The 50-year-old mother of three is the widow of Don Drysdale, the Hall of Fame pitcher for the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Drysdale met Ann Meyers when he was a broadcaster covering ABC's 'Superstars' competition, a multi-sport event where athletes of different sports tested their all-around abilities against each other. Meyers was three-time champion of the women's Superstars and the first woman to compete in the men's competition. Drysdale encouraged Meyers to go to broadcasting school.
'In the 1970s, women in sports broadcasting were Phyllis George and Jane Kennedy, which was a completely different image,' Meyers-Drysdale said. 'Donna de Varona was the first female athlete in broadcasting in swimming and later there was Billie Jean King in tennis. I was the first female to announce basketball, especially men's basketball.'
During Meyers' tryout with the Indiana Pacers, comparisons to Jackie Robinson, the first African-American Major League Baseball player, became frequent. Not only were Robinson and Meyers firsts in a professional sport, both were multi sports athletes at UCLA and both had professional stints in Hawaii (Robinson as a semi-professional football player and Meyers with a television station in Honolulu). Don Drysdale was also a former teammate of Robinson.
The Ronald Reagan Media Award is named after the 40th President of the United States, who was a radio announcer for the Chicago Cubs and University of Iowa football team before his more noted acting and political careers. It has been presented since 1985, when Cosell was the first recipient and later master of ceremonies for the USSA Academy Awards of Sport.
The United States Sports Academy, 'America's Sport University,' is an independent, nonprofit institution that offers sport-specific programs to students, teachers, and administrators around the world. The Academy has a special mission to serve the sports industry as a resource in instruction, research, and other vital sports-related services. It is the only freestanding institution of higher learning in the United States offering bachelors, masters and doctoral degrees in Sport Science and Sport Management, in addition to its extensive certification programs.
For more information about the United States Sports Academy, call 251-626-3303 or visit the Academy's website www.ussa.edu.