Fite And Wells Headed Into Hall Of Fame
The Wendy’s College Classic, which
is the oldest-running NCAA Division III basketball tournament in the nation,
has announced its 13th class of inductees into the Wendy’s College Classic Hall
of Fame in conjunction with its 45th annual event, which will be held this
coming November 30 – December 4.
The Hall of Fame’s Class of 2010
consists of center Chris Fite of the University of Rochester, who was the
Classic’s MVP in 1989-90 and 1991-92 when his Yellowjackets
won championships and also was a First Team All-Classic choice in 1990-91 when
UR was the runner-up, and 28-year Classic administrator Tony Wells, who served
as the event’s award-winning Executive Director from 1999 until his retirement
after the 2009 competition.
Fite is UR’s first Hall of Fame player, while Wells is the Classic’s sixth Hall of Fame contributor, joining Bill Carey (RIT coach, Nazareth athletic director, 1998 inductee), Rich Funke (WHEC 10NBC sports director, 1999), Nick Urzetta (game official and clock operator, 2000), Bill Pucko (WHEC TV and RNews sports anchor, 2004), and Randy Morien (23-year Classic Chairman, 2009).
“We induct two people per year into our Hall of Fame,” relates Classic Executive Director Mike Daley. “Inductees include players (minimum four-year waiting period from final Classic game), coaches, officials, administrators, media, and supporters who have contributed to the storied 44-year history of our event,” explains Daley, a West Henrietta, N.Y. resident.
Besides being the longest-running NCAA Division III basketball event in the country, the Wendy’s College Classic is also the nation’s largest in-season NCAA Division III basketball tournament with 16 squads…eight women’s and eight men’s teams…playing 24 games over five days at seven campus sites.
The participating area schools are Hobart and William Smith Colleges, Nazareth College, Roberts Wesleyan College, University of Rochester (defending men’s and women’s champs), RIT, St. John Fisher College, SUNY Brockport, and SUNY Geneseo.
Wells served as an administrator with the Classic from 1981 until his retirement following the 2009 competition. From 1981 through 1988 as UR’s Sports Information Director, he hosted the semi-finals and finals five times and began his duties as the Classic’s Historian (a position he still holds). In the summer of 1988, Wells opened the Tony Wells Agency for athletic publicity, promotion, and marketing…and was hired as a member of the Classic Executive Committee as an Assistant Coordinator. He was promoted to the position of Classic Executive Director in 1999.
During his 11-year tenure as Executive Director, Wells coordinated all facets of the 24-game competition, with direct responsibilities of marketing, advertising, game program editor, scheduling, awards, host site management, and budgeting. Over the course of his 28-year involvement with the Classic, Wells oversaw the event’s growth to its position as the nation’s oldest, largest and most-prestigious in-season NCAA Division III basketball competition through a series of innovative moves.
In 1992-93, he expanded the men’s Classic to include fifth and seventh place games, and chaired the committee that started the four-team women’s Classic in 199-94 that expanded to eight squads om 1995-96, when the Classic’s Seedings and Pairings Dinner was enlarged to include all 16 participating squads. Wells created the Classic Hall of Fame in 1998 and the Men’s Classic 40th Anniversary Team in 2006.
Wells was also responsible for two trend-setting broadcasting packages: WXXI TV’s telecasts for the men’s and women’s title games to its 4.7 million upstate PBS viewers from 1995-96 through 1999-2000, and since 2002-03 the five-night, ten-game (five each for men and women) prime-time doubleheader radio package on WYSL 1040 AM that includes world-wide Internet coverage.
Division III Basketball At Its Best, the Classic’s official 164-page game program which Wells edited and designed from 1989 through 2009, won four prestigious “Best In The Nation Citations For Excellence In Publications” in the Special Event Program category: “Best Program In The Nation” in 1998-99 and 2008-09, and “Best Program Cover” in 2006-07 and 2008-09. This annual publication competition is conducted by the College Sports Information Directors of America and judged by nationwide panels of sportscasters and sportswriters.
For his efforts on behalf of the Classic, Wells was honored on Cape Cod (Mass.) in 2005 at the Eastern College Athletic Conference-Sports Information Directors Association 50th Annual ESPN Awards Dinner with the Bob Kenworthy Good Person Award for “Exceptional Respect For The Sports Information Profession, Fellow SISs, The Media, and His Community.”
Similarly, in 2008 the WHAM Sportswomen of the Year Awards Luncheon presented Wells with its Jack Palvino Award, which is generally given annually “To A Male For Outstanding Support and Contributions To Rochester Area Women’s Sporting Activities.”
A member of the Class of 1970 at Rockford (Illinois) College, where he served as Sports Information Director from 1966 until 1980 and in 1990 was inducted in the Rockford College Athletic Hall of Fame; Wells is now in his 45th year promoting intercollegiate athletics. The President of The Tony Wells Agency, Wells and his wife, Betsy, have two grown sons: Chris (35) and Doug (33).