By Brett Fera
PHOTO COURTESY NBC SPORTS
UA alum and former Wildcat sports editor Dan Hicks, right, joins former U.S. Open champion Johnny Miller as lead commentator on NBC Sports' award-winning golf coverage.
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Friday, October 29, 2004
Dan Hicks, 1984 UA graduate and native Tucsonan, as well as a former Wildcat sports editor, has been NBC Sports' lead golf anchor for the past four years, covering everything from the U.S. Open to the Ryder Cup while traveling the globe. While UA students were at home glued to their televisions this past summer as Arizona swimmers Amanda Beard of the United States and Ryk Neethling, Roland Schoeman and Lyndon Ferns of South Africa were winning gold at the Olympic Games, Hicks was poolside calling the action as NBC's top voice for its coverage of swimming events at the games.
Hicks had a chance to chat with the Wildcat this week to talk everything from Lute Olson's hiring, to his first job after graduating, to what it's like trying to hide his Wildcat pride while on the job.
Wildcat: You graduated in 1984; that was Lute Olson's first season. What was UA men's basketball like before he got here?
Hicks: Going into my senior year was Lute's first season. I remember going to the games, and we'd sit anywhere we wanted to sit. It was easy to not cheer for the team because they really were pathetic. It was kind of embarrassing. I'll never forget there was a rainstorm outside and there was one leak coming from the rafters in McKale Center, and it was coming down right on (former head coach) Ben Lindsey's head. He moved down a seat and the leak continued to drip on that one seat. That was kind of symbolic of that team.
Wildcat: How about when Coach Olson was hired? Was it a pretty big deal or did it take a year or two to sink in around campus?
Hicks: It was a pretty big deal because it was a big hire. He was a big-time coach. He had done great things at Iowa. It was a big deal in Tucson, even before the turnaround began to take effect. He was very well respected and even had other teams take runs at him.
Wildcat: What was the progression to you career? Did you go to grad school or anything or did you go straight to work immediately?
Hicks: I went right to work. I thought in my field the most important thing I could do was get on the air in any way shape or form. I went to work at a radio station in Tucson. I got a part-time job reading the news for $5 an hour, and I still had to live at home because I really couldn't go anywhere else. I gradually began doing a sports radios show. I did radio in Tucson for 2 1/2 years. I had a show called "Dan Hicks' Sports Fix." Then I worked at KVOA in Tucson.
Wildcat: Is that how you ended up with NBC?
Hicks: No, I ended up going from KVOA in Tucson to CNN sports. I mean getting into TV itself was a big deal, and doing it in Tucson was a big deal.
Wildcat: What's the best part of your job?
Hicks: First of all, I have a passion for sports. The first thing I lifted out of the paper was the sports page for as long as I can remember. If you love sports, you love being at games. You love being there when magic happens on the court, or the field, or the pool at the Olympics. Aside from the maybe being the guy that hits the home run to win the game, there's no better place to be than right there calling the action. It's live, it's unscripted. It's just a buzz that you cannot get anywhere else.
Wildcat: You're married to Hannah Storm, a former NBC sports anchor and current host of CBS' daily morning show. Were you and your wife already in the business before you met?
Hicks: We met at CNN - that was back in '89. We got there right around the same time. We eventually started dating, then she got to NBC Sports like a month before I did. It was amazing that we both ended up there, it was like hitting the jackpot.
Wildcat: How often do you get a chance to come back to Tucson and the UA?
Hicks: Not as often as I'd like. I went back, took my family there this spring. My parents still live in Tucson, and one of my two sisters. My aunt and uncle live there still.
Wildcat: How much has the campus changed since you graduated?
Hicks: I went back for the first time in a long time, and I finally went down to campus and went around the student union with my family and got a big kick out of it. It's impressive. It's a huge step up from what it was. It just seemed bigger. I don't know how the students feel about the school. I loved it, the college town. That's what Tucson is, a college town. It was great to go back and kind of show my family and my kids where I went to school.
Wildcat: You were the lead play-by-play announcer for swimming at the Olympics in Athens this past summer. From Amanda Beard to the three South African swimmers (Ryk Neethling, Roland Schoeman, Lyndon Ferns) from the UA, it wasn't too bad a showing for former Wildcats.
Hicks: It's funny - as you're doing them you're trying to be as impartial as you can, but I couldn't help having a little pride for Arizona and what (head coach Frank) Busch has done. When those guys pulled off the first gold medal for a men's team from South Africa, that was amazing. It was pretty good stuff by the Wildcats.
Wildcat: You anchor golf coverage often for NBC. What's it like traveling to some of the world's most beautiful locations?
Hicks: One of the great things about the sport of golf is that it's not played on the same course. Basketball is played on the same rectangle, but everything changes with golf from week to week. I hosted my first U.S. Open, the 100th U.S. Open at Pebble Beach, in 2000. That was one of those times in my career I've just pinched myself.