A worthwhile bid
The Dayton Flyers make it in to the 1984 NCAA
Just the year before, with the same 18-10 record, University of Dayton officials were awaiting word from their “friends” at the NIT (National Invitational Tournament) for an invitation to that still-relevant tournament after the NCAA made its then-53 selections.
The NIT, in March of 1983, never called.
Now it was 1984, and UD Athletics Director Tom Frericks, holding out slim hopes the Flyers would be included in the NCAA, was taking no chances the NIT would overlook his school again, in case the NCAA did.
He called New York several times on Sunday, March 13, 1984—Selection Sunday—to make sure Dayton was included somewhere, even though some websites today don’t count that opening clobbering of small-school Otterbein in UD’s overall record.
It didn’t matter. This UD team, led by Roosevelt Chapman, was really good and held three wins in seven games against teams that would be in the NCAA field.
In the March 12 final, against Old Dominion at home, Sedric Toney made a free throw near the end that won the game for UD.
“A boisterous UD Arena crowd was saved from choking on its cheering by a Sedric Toney foul shot with five seconds left that earned the University of Dayton a 64-63 victory over a good Old Dominion team Saturday, and probably an NIT invitation today,” I wrote for Sunday’s Dayton Daily News.
We had two daily newspapers in those days, the evening and Sunday-morning Daily News and the six-days a week morning Journal Herald.
Both were operated by Cox Media, but newspaper readership was changing even then. We worked a couple years, or more, with one staff working stories for both newspapers. Then we merged the mastheads and published only morning editions. Then we dropped the Journal Herald.
If you’re a certain age, you might be surprised—as I was last week—to learn there are people who don’t even know there was a Journal Herald.
Too bad, but that’s not this story.
This story is about my thinking the Flyers would be snubbed by the NCAA, and it would be a long night waiting for the NIT. I arrived at the Arena about 5 p.m. with a book—a thick book. I had to have something to do.
My assignment was to write a UD tournament story for the Journal Herald, which had a deadline somewhere around midnight. Gary Nuhn would take care of Monday’s Daily News, and he had all night to write.
CBS was going to announce the NCAA field at 5:30. After that, the NIT would figure it out.
Suddenly, UD Athletics Director Tom Frericks’ phone rang. (Yeah, the rotary dial one.)
It was Frericks’ good friend and Miami Athletics Director Richard Shrider, who was on the NCAA selection committee in Kansas City.
It was 5:10 p.m., just 20 minutes before the CBS show that would reveal the field.
Shrider—whose team had also made the field by virtue of winning the Mid-American Conference Tournament—told Frericks his team, too, was in the field, and would play LSU in Salt Lake City in the West Regional.
I overheard the call and immediately commandeered a telephone to alert the JH desk to what was about to happen.
Those back at the office were already deep into laying out the paper, and this unexpected development was going to require a major makeover.
Understand there was no social media situation that was going to break this news before the CBS TV show.
But Frericks—a really nice man—was not very happy. He heard my call and shouted at me that the information was private. I let him know it would stay that way; the editors at the JH were just redesigning their pages.
I don’t think that made him very happy, but the show went on, and I never did get to that book.
I was able to make it over to the WHIO studios, where UD coach Don Donoher was preparing for his weekly television show.
Donoher, who had a phone on his desk there, apparently used for the same reason Michael Jackson used a glove on only one hand. Donoher let the phone ring while he concentrated on his show. Someone at the station had to tell Donoher to give Frericks a call.
Donoher thought it had something to do with an early NIT bid and he’d be able to plug it on his show.
Ecstatic, Donoher began crunching the numbers. His Flyers were a No. 10 seed. In the field were 29 automatic bids and 24 at-large bids—one of which went to the independent Flyers.
Donoher looked at the list of the 10-12 bids, finding all of them, except his team, were automatics. That made his team the last in the field.
Nice move by the NCAA. Dayton beat LSU, then Oklahoma in Salt Lake City. They came home to much adulation and, within a few days, turned around for Los Angeles, where they would play Washington at famed Pauley Pavilion in Westwood.
Washington fell, and Georgetown was given a good game before prevailing 61-49.
Georgetown went on to win the National Championship.
There was plenty more I’ve told and will tell about that trip. Some of it I’ll tell you about next week.
I just wish I could remember the name of that book.
The views and opinions expressed in On Your Marc are the views and/or opinions of the author and do not reflect the views and/or opinions of the Dayton City Paper or Dayton City Media and are published strictly for entertainment purposes.