Remembering Bleacher Report writer Thad Novak, 1979-2014
Thad Novak’s passion was college basketball.
Thad was someone many people who work at Bleacher Report never had the privilege of meeting. Yet many of those same people gained a level of respect for him, and none of them had a bad word to say about him or his work. Many of us never really knew how sick he was.
Novak, who described himself in his Bleacher Report bio as “an ex-academic scientist who’s having a lot more fun trying to make a career out of sportswriting,” died on Nov. 1 of complications from cystic fibrosis.
When the NCAA Tournament tipped off on March 18, he told his editors he wasn’t feeling well, but he wanted assignments. He wanted to chronicle the next Bryce Drew or Shabazz Napier.
He wanted to be a part of the Madness.
Even as he prepared to enter the hospital for a double lung transplant this summer, he kept writing. He apologized for missing deadlines and promised to turn pieces around as soon as possible. He published two articles while laid up in the hospital and even did a radio appearance.
I worked with Thad early in his time at Bleacher Report when he was part of the Breaking News Team. His perspective was unique. He had a Ph.D. in biochemistry and molecular biology from the University of Chicago and a master’s degree from Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism. He valued history and sharing it with his readers.
Upon hearing the news of his passing, several B/R writers expressed gratitude for Thad offering them advice, unsolicited, as they entered the world of sportswriting. He was an editor’s dream.
So when Louisville and Minnesota tip Friday night in Puerto Rico, we know that Thad would have been watching and eager to recount what he saw.
He could have written about the unique father-son matchup pitting Rick against Richard Pitino. Or he could have written about how Minnesota would have no answer for Montrezl Harrell. Or how Andre Hollins would shred the Cardinals’ patented pressure D.
Whatever the angle, there’s no doubt Thad would have written it with the uncommon passion he showed for college basketball. He’ll be missed.
Thad’s family says contributions to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation are welcome at this page.
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Elliott Pohnl is Bleacher Report’s Assistant Managing Editor.