ESPN’s Jay Bilas will be Hall’s 2016 featured speaker
Arguably the leading college basketball analyst in the country will be the featured speaker at the Blair County Sports Hall of Fame enshrinement.
A sharp critic of the NCAA, ESPN broadcaster and one of basketball’s most respected voices, Jay Bilas will headline the 2016 ceremony on April 23, 2016, at the Blair County Convention Center.
“Jay Bilas has become one of the nation’s most respected voices not only in commenting on basketball but in sports in general,” Blair County Sports Hall of Fame president Neil Rudel said. “He’s been particularly outspoken in his assessment of the NCAA and its treatment of its member schools and student-athletes, and I’m sure he’ll have an interesting message. We’re very pleased that he’ll join a long line of nationally-known sports figures as our featured speaker.”
For a list of the Hall of Fame’s past speakers, click here.
Bilas, who joined ESPN as a college basketball analyst in 1995 and serves as a game and studio analyst and courtside color commentator, is a regular contributor to SportsCenter and ESPN.com, and the Duke graduate is a multiple-time Emmy nominee for his work in the studio.
He also has been a litigation attorney with the Charlotte, N.C., firm of Moore & Van Allen, PLLC since 1992, and he published a book in 2013 called Toughness: Developing True Strength On and Off the Court.
But it’s been his work as an analyst that has thrust the NCAA basketball standout into the national spotlight, and the NCAA — particularly president Mark Emmert — has been in his crosshairs.
In an interview with USA Today, Bilas said the NCAA “circumvented its own rules” to punish Penn State.
“It does create a precedent,” he said after the sanctions were announced. “I think the NCAA needs more adherence to its precedent and not less. We’re hearing, ‘this is a one-time only thing. This case is unique, it’s case by case.’ Well, going forward, the NCAA will have to explain why it’s not getting involved.”
The 2016 Hall induction class includes Altoona Curve owners Bob and Joan Lozinak, Detroit Pistons GM Jeff Bower, United States biathlon champion Doug Hoover, Bishop Guilfoyle and West Virginia football player Thom Geishauser and Jennifer (Shingler) Hansberry, who excelled on the hardwood at Altoona and the University of Pittsburgh.
This year, the Hall will induct both the 1958 and 1966 Williamsburg boys basketball teams, too.
Pittsburgh’s Stan Savran will return as banquet emcee, and community service award winners and scholarship recipients will be announced when they are finalized.
Advance orders for tickets, priced at $75 ($750 for table of 10) before Dec. 31 and $85 ($850 per table) after that, are currently being accepted. Checks can be made payable to the Blair County Sports Hall of Fame, P.O. Box 162, Altoona, Pa. 16603. For more ticket information, call Kathy Millward at 381-8961.