Dave Nitz Earns Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame Honor
RUSTON - Legendary Louisiana Tech Hall of Fame broadcaster Dave Nitz - and his well-known vocal chords - has been selected for the 2019 Distinguished Service Award in Sports Journalism from the Louisiana Sports Writers Association.
Nitz will join deeply influential sportswriter Philip Timothy as the recipients of the prestigious honor when they are inducted in the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame June 8.
"You would be hard pressed to find a more beloved person among the Louisiana Tech fan base then Dave Nitz," said LA Tech Director of Athletics Tommy McClelland. "For more than four decades Bulldog fans have listened to Dave and hung on every word during football, basketball and baseball games. Our University is so fortunate to have him and are so proud of everything he has accomplished. No one deserves this honor more than Dave."
The Distinguished Service Award in Sports Journalism is the most prestigious honor offered to sports media in the state. Recipients are chosen by the 35-member Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame selection committee based on nominees' professional accomplishments in local, state, regional and even national arenas, with leadership in the LSWA a contributing factor and three decades of work in the profession as a requirement.
Distinguished Service Award winners are enshrined in the Hall of Fame along with the 422 current athletes, sports journalists, coaches and administrators chosen since 1959. Just 62 leading figures in the state's sports media have been honored with the Distinguished Service Award since its inception 37 years ago in 1982.
Nitz and Timothy will be among the 2019 Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame Induction Class to be spotlighted in the annual Induction Dinner and Ceremonies on Saturday evening, June 8, at the Natchitoches Events Center. The Induction Dinner and Ceremonies are the highlight of the 2019 Induction Celebration beginning Thursday afternoon, June 6, with a regionally-televised (Cox Sports Television) press conference at the Hall of Fame museum at 800 Front Street in Natchitoches.
"It means quite a bit," said Nitz. "I was excited. I was surprised to say the least. I never thought this would come about. The thing that makes it more special is the fact Matt Dunigan is going in this class too. Matt and I were part of the same class in the Louisiana Tech Hall of Fame. It's quite a surprise and quite an honor to go in with so many legends in the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame. I don't consider myself a legend. I'm just plain old Dave and a broadcaster. It means a lot to me, and it will mean a lot to my family too.
"Louisiana Tech has been stability for me and my family more than anything else. We came here in 1974 and working in radio I never thought I would be here more than a few years. But this April it will be 45 years we have been in Louisiana. None of my kids were born here, but they all consider it home."
Nitz is in his 44th season as the radio voice of Louisiana Tech sports, having called nearly 3,000 football, basketball and baseball contests and events for the Bulldogs and Lady Techsters. He's done 36 seasons of minor league baseball, including play-by-play for franchises in Shreveport and Baton Rouge.
In his 57th season as a broadcaster, Nitz works in a booth named for him at Joe Aillet Stadium in Ruston. In 2011, he was a Louisiana Tech Athletics Hall of Fame inductee and also was chosen as Louisiana Sportscaster of the Year.
Nitz began his broadcasting career in the early 1960s calling minor league baseball for the Baltimore Orioles farm system in Bluefield in his native state of West Virginia. He began his college broadcasting career at Georgia Southern in 1967, moving to William & Mary in 1970 where he worked for the next three seasons alongside head football coach Lou Holtz. Now, he broadcasts Tech games with Holtz' son, Skip, as the Bulldogs' football coach.
After a year at Arkansas Tech, Nitz moved to Louisiana Tech in 1974 when he was hired as the Voice of the Bulldogs as well as the director of promotions and coordinator of the Louisiana Tech Radio Network. He worked with 2004 Distinguished Service Award recipient Keith Prince in the university's sports information office for more than a decade.
"He's so consistent," said Prince. "You can count on him. It's always a quality effort. You know that you will get something that you can be proud of. He is just such a professional. I've never known anyone who is so dedicated to their profession and loves it so much. It comes through in his broadcasts. I think Louisiana Tech has been so lucky to have someone of that quality in that position all these years."
Nitz is the longest-active college play-by-play announcer ever in Louisiana and the third-longest active play-by-play announcer at one university in the country (behind only Washington State and Pitt nationally).
His description of a Louisiana Tech touchdown in the closing seconds for a 29-28 upset of Alabama in 1999 was included in "Heart Stoppers and Hail Mary's," a book listing "The 100 Greatest Calls in College Football History."
He was also the voice of the nationally-acclaimed Lady Techster basketball program in the late 1970s and early 1980s, calling back-to-back national championship games in 1981 and 1982.
He has won first place in the Louisiana Sports Writers Association college broadcaster play-by-play contest three times in the last five years.
Nitz also spent nine years as the voice of the Sioux City Explorers. He was on the call for Sioux City when they broke the American Association record for wins in a single season with their 75 wins in 2015. He began with the Explorers in 2009 and retired from the X's play by play job at the conclusion of the 2017 season. He entertained many Explorers fans throughout his summers in Sioux City capping off every X's victory with his trademark call "This one belongs to the Explorers."
Five-time NFL Most Valuable Player Peyton Manning and former LSU football coach Les Miles, who won 77 percent of his games and a national championship in 11 seasons with the Tigers, join five-time USA Olympic volleyball standout Danielle Scott-Arruda among a star-studded group of eight 2019 competitive ballot inductees chosen for the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame.
The LSHOF Class of 2019 also includes championship coaches Roger Cador (Southern University baseball) and Charles Smith (Alexandria-Peabody Magnet high school basketball), Louisiana Tech quarterback and Canadian Football League Hall of Fame member Matt Dunigan, along with LSU football great Max Fugler, an All-American on the Tigers' 1958 national championship team, and T. Barrett "Teaberry" Porter, a member of the Rodeo Hall of Fame.
Also honored with enshrinement in the Class of 2019 will be the Dave Dixon Louisiana Sports Leadership Award winner, to be announced soon.
The 2019 Induction Class will be showcased in the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame Museum, operated by the Louisiana State Museum system in a partnership with the Louisiana Sports Writers Association. The striking $23 million, two-story, 27,500-square foot structure faces Cane River Lake in the National Historic Landmark District of Natchitoches and has garnered worldwide architectural acclaim and rave reviews for its contents since its grand opening during the 2013 Hall of Fame induction weekend.
The selection of Nitz and Timothy was jointly announced Monday by Hall of Fame chairman Doug Ireland and LSWA president Lenny Vangilder.
The 2019 Induction Celebration will kick off Thursday, June 6, with a press conference and reception. The three-day festivities include two receptions, a youth sports clinic, a bowling party, and a Friday night riverbank concert in Natchitoches. Tickets for the Saturday night, June 8 Induction Dinner and Ceremony, along with congratulatory advertising and sponsorship opportunities, are available through the LaSportsHall.com website.
Anyone can receive quarterly e-mails about the 2019 Induction Celebration and other Hall of Fame news by signing up on the LaSportsHall.com website.
Adding to the 342 sports competitors currently enshrined, 18 winners of the Dave Dixon Louisiana Sports Leadership award and 62 recipients of the Distinguished Service Award in Sports Journalism, there are 422 current members of the Hall of Fame before this summer's inductions.
The 2019 Induction Celebration weekend will be hosted by the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame Foundation, the support organization for the Hall of Fame. The LSHOF Foundation was established as a 501 c 3 non-profit entity in 1975 and is governed by a statewide board of directors. For information on sponsorship opportunities, contact Foundation President/CEO Ronnie Rantz at 225-802-6040 or RonnieRantz@LaSportsHall.com. Standard and customized sponsorships are available.
Images from this story
Dave Nitz broadcasting for the Sioux City Explorers
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