Bruce Woodbury, a 35-year employee of the University of Utah athletic department and a key figure in the school’s hosting of the 1979 Final Four, died Sunday. The longtime Bountiful resident was 70.
Woodbury directed the media operation for the ’79 Final Four and 12 other NCAA basketball tournaments on the Utah campus, prior to his retirement in 2007. Utah’s hosting of the first and second rounds of the 2019 tournament (at Vivint Smart Home Arena) is a 40-year anniversary of the ’79 Final Four.
As the Utes' sports information director for 22 years, Woodbury worked with the basketball team during its run to the 1998 national championship game.
In an era when college athletic departments proactively sought media attention and SIDs developed close, working relationships with writers and broadcasters at various schools, Woodbury — known almost universally as “Woody” — was highly regarded in the Western Athletic Conference, the Mountain West and around the region.
Greg Hansen, a Logan native and the longtime sports columnist of the Arizona Daily Star in Tucson, said via Twitter, “I never met anybody who didn't like or respect Woody. He was selfless, fair and an enduring example of what a college sports information director should be.”
Woodbury received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the College Sports Information Directors of America in 2001. He was a member of the Viewmont High School Hall of Fame and received a Distinguished Service Award from the Utah Sports Hall of Fame Foundation. He was a longtime member of the USHOFF board of directors.
Woodbury was sports editor of Daily Utah Chronicle and graduated from the school in 1972. He took a job as assistant sports information director and was promoted to top position in '78.
In 2000, Woodbury moved into a community relations position in the athletic department, with various duties that included nonconference football scheduling. Utah's ambitious 2007 schedule that included Oregon State, UCLA and Louisville became more memorable when the Utes won two of those games.
Woodbury started attending Ute sporting events at age 4 and was in the press box for home football games during the 2018 season. He is survived by his wife, Nancy, and five children.