Phil Haddy: The Zelig of NCAA basketball

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The Woody Allen movie "Zelig" pretty much covers Phil Haddy and the NCAA tournament.

"Zelig" is Allen's 1983 fictional documentary about the life of human chameleon Leonard Zelig, a man who becomes a celebrity in the 1920s because of  his ability to look and act like whoever is around him. Zelig made it onto newsreel footage of Calvin Coolidge, Babe Ruth and William Randolph Hearst.

That brings us to Phil Haddy, who's retiring from Iowa's sports information post after 41 years on the job.

Every year, without fail, Haddy, a Cedar Rapids native and Washington High School grad, scored some facetime on the CBS national broadcast. If it wasn't the Final Four, it was an Elite Eight or a regional site. Some way, shape or form, Haddy made it onto your screen. Last season, he was prominently featured escorting Kansas and coach Bill Self onto the floor.

Thus, the NCAA basketball "Zelig."

That was kind of Haddy's job. As you all know, probably painfully well, Iowa hasn't exactly been busy during the NCAA tournament the last several years. The tournament is a major operation and SID staffs from all over the country put in time running press at tourney sites. So, Haddy actually was working during these deals.

Still, he'd tell you with a wry smile that, yes, maybe a few times his camera mugging was gratuitous.

Haddy's retirement golf outing was in Iowa City today. I've been told the Haddy is a big hitter.

For better or worse, the SIDs and the reporters are tied to the hip. We bump heads in close quarters. We occasionally have heated words, but it never goes beyond the moment. It's not an easy job, playing go-between with angry coach who just lost at Ohio State (the 2005 Ohio State game) and reporters who ask angry coach how the lockerroom was after an overtime loss (the 2009 Ohio State game and, no, not me).

I've had a ton of laughs with Phil over the years. Way more laughs than heated moments. Things can get absurd at times. I think we both saw that and could only laugh.

Phil will be around the press box. He'll slap me in the back and call me #$#$%%^&, which is cool because my nickname for him is @#$#$%$#$&&.

Enjoy the golf, Phil. And then add 10 strokes.

I kid, I kid.

From Iowa sports info:


IOWA CITY, Iowa – Former University of Iowa Sports Information Director Phil Haddy will receive the College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA) Lifetime Achievement Award June 25 in St. Louis. The award will be presented during the Hall of Fame Luncheon at the annual CoSIDA Convention, held June 22-26.

Haddy, a member of the UI athletic staff for 41 years and Iowa’s Sports Information Director from 1993-2010, is currently the longest-serving member of a Big Ten Sports Information Office. He joined the Iowa athletic staff as assistant sports information director in 1971 and became the third sports information director in school history in 1993. He began a two-year phased retirement in 2010.

Only two athletic department employees, former SID Eric Wilson (46 years) and former swimming and diving coach Dave Armbruster (41 years), have worked for the Hawkeyes as long, or longer, than Haddy. Haddy and his wife, Elaine, have worked at the University of Iowa a total of 86 years.

Haddy was named Wrestling Publicist of the Year in 1992 by the Wrestling Media of America and was recognized with the 2001 Elmer “Scoop” Hudgens Lifetime SID Award from the All-America Football Foundation. His UI wrestling guides were judged “Nations Best” three times, as picked by CoSIDA and Amateur Wrestling News.

Haddy is a native of Cedar Rapids, where he graduated from Washington High School. He holds two degrees from the University of Iowa.

Former Iowa Sports Information Director George Wine received the CoSIDA Lifetime Achievement Award in 1996. Eric Wilson (1969) and Wine (1985) are also members of the CoSIDA Hall of Fame.

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