Saturday, May 6, 2017

CoSIDA salutes 25-Year Award recipient Ed Cassiere, XULA

By Paul Just
Western Kentucky University Sports Information Director (retired)

NEW ORLEANS -- In 1974, a sophomore at Jesuit High School (now Loyola College Prep) in Shreveport, La., looked proudly at his first byline in the sports section of the Shreveport Times as he wrote a story on a high school football game.

"A Jesuit classmate, John James Marshall, recommended me to preps editor Nico Van Thyn for a part-time job at The Times," Cassiere said. "That's how I got a foot in the door."

That was the beginning of a career that led to a quarter century (and counting) for Ed Cassiere in college sports information.

"I first became aware of sports information when I was in the fourth or fifth grade," Cassiere recalls. "My dad was a Notre Dame fan and later my two brothers went to college there. They came home with a football media guide. I was fascinated with all the detail and information in that book. I was hooked!"

Now, 43 years after that first story, Cassiere is the SID at Xavier University of Louisiana and will be recognized for his 25 years of service to the profession at the CoSIDA June national convention in Orlando.

With a reputation as one of the most competent and effective SIDs in the country, Cassiere is an outstanding writer with an amazing ability to multi-task and produce results. He has honed his skills in both sports journalism and college sports information at various stops along the way.

After high school, he headed to the University of Missouri where he got his first taste of sports information as a student in the Tiger SID office (1977-80). He graduated in 1981 with a bachelor of journalism degree and returned home as a sportswriter for the Shreveport Journal for five years.

In 1984, he applied for an assistant SID position at the University of Southwestern Louisiana (now UL Lafayette).

"I knew (ULL SID) Dan McDonald through our mutual involvement in the Louisiana Sports Writers Association and always thought SID work was cool and prestigious and wanted to give it a try," Cassiere said.

Although he did not get the job, he was hired when he applied again two years later.

"I was familiar with Ed's work at the Journal. He was an excellent writer. I really valued his ability to tell a story," McDonald, a CoSIDA Hall of Famer, commented. "He can identify details that many might miss and then create effective ways to use them. Ed is absolutely one of the hardest working and most devoted people I know."

After a year at Lafayette, Cassiere took over as the SID at the University of New Orleans where he spent the next 13 years. Ed did it all for UNO publicity, news releases, media guides, game programs, web content, and media relations in the state's largest market. He successfully publicized NBA first-round draft pick Ervin Johnson and promoted legendary UNO baseball coach Ron Maestri as the school's first inductee into the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame. He also served as the host media relations director for the 1991 NCAA Women's Final Four and the 1993 Men's Final Four.

"Ed took great pride in our program," said former UNO men's basketball coach Tim Floyd (now at UTEP). 
"It seemed like he was always on the job. He really cared about us and we thought of him as a member of our team. Ed had to be the best in the country at identifying details that could help sell the program. He wrote stories that made readers really want to read them."

Cassiere left UNO in 2000 and became a freelance sports journalist in the New Orleans area, covering pro, college and high school sports while also assisting with media coordination for selected Louisiana High School Athletic Association championships.

In July 2006, Cassiere returned to college as SID for Xavier's nine-sport NAIA program. This summer he'll begin his 12th year at the New Orleans school.

"Ed is a real student of the business," said XU athletics director Jason Horn. "It is obvious that he loves what he's doing and that he wants to be the very best at it. He is a valued asset for Xavier athletics and an important member of our senior leadership team."

"Ed has elevated our whole athletic program, getting Xavier athletics noticed at the community, state, NAIA and national levels. He's a great SID, but an even better friend — I think all our coaches feel that way! In his second year here, I began calling him 'The Great One.' His daughters picked up on that and I believe they still call him 'The Great One'," said longtime Xavier women's basketball coach Bo Browder.

Through the years, Cassiere has earned 85 awards in state, regional and national contests for sports writing and sports information work — 23 of those first-place honors. He won 18 NAIA writing awards the past six years, including four for first place, four seconds and three thirds.

"As soon as Ed arrived at Xavier, we started getting more exposure. He helped put our program on the national map! Sometimes I think he never sleeps as it's not uncommon to get a text from him at two o'clock in the morning with an idea or a question!" noted Xavier men's and women's tennis coach Alan Green.

"You couldn't find a better person than Ed Cassiere," said Dennis Cousin, who was the AD who hired him at Xavier. "He went above and beyond to do anything he could to help our programs succeed. Ed worked so hard — he was always the last to leave."

Ed and his wife Sharon, reside in Metairie and are the parents of two daughters, Katrina and Amy.

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