Upon retirement from the Seattle Times in 2015, Bud Withers calculated that he had covered 73 different weekends of the NCAA tournament over a 39-year period. A couple of those occurred decades ago at beloved old McArthur Court in Eugene, but the place never sizzled as much as it did when the Ducks were about to ascend the creaking wooden steps from the locker room, the crowd was stomping its feet in anticipation and the lemon-and-green streamers floated from the third balcony.
It was nights like those that gave Bud a deep appreciation for the game, for the setting, for the importance of it in the lives of its fans. Decades later, he ranks Mac Court and old Bohler Gym – at his alma mater, Washington State – as the most ear-splitting venues he visited in four-decades-plus covering college hoops.
Three days after graduating WSU in 1970 – and one overheated Mustang, dragging a U-Haul trailer south – he was working at the Eugene Register-Guard, covering Oregon football, Oregon State basketball and for the last five years of a 17-year stint, writing four columns a week. It was long after in Seattle, where he spent 28 years at the Post-Intelligencer and the Times, that he discovered that his tenure in Eugene – 1970 to 1987 – exactly paralleled the Ducks’ absence from college football’s AP rankings. In Seattle, he covered mostly college football and basketball, and in the last decade or so, wrote columns on the Pac-12.
Bud is a former president of the U.S. Basketball Writers Assn. and was inducted into the group’s hall of fame in 2010. He co-authored “Spanning the Game” with former Oregon State coach Ralph Miller in 1991 and wrote two books on the phenomenon of Gonzaga basketball – “Bravehearts” (2002) and “Glory Hounds” (2016). He and his wife Velvet have two grown sons, live in Woodinville, Washington and spend a lot of time trying to maintain order with a three-year-old golden doodle, Duffy.