By Calhoun Hipp, Southland Confrence
Veteran Northwestern State sports information director Doug Ireland was named the 2016 recipient of the Southland Conference’s Louis Bonnette Sports Media Award.
The Southland’s award, named after longtime McNeese sports information director Louis Bonnette, is presented annually to an individual that has made an outstanding contribution in the field of sports information, print journalism, broadcasting or other media focused on the Southland Conference and/or its member institutions. The Southland’s sports information directors, athletic directors or other university personnel, and outside media executives nominated worthy individuals for the honor, and the sports information directors make the final selection.
Ireland, a graduate of Northwestern State, began his sports information career in 1982 at Louisiana-Lafayette, where he worked with the men’s basketball program that reached three straight postseasons.
He worked as Natchitoches bureau chief for the Shreveport Times in 1981-82 while an NSU student, providing news coverage of an eight-parish region stretching from Mansfield to Leesville and Alexandria. After leaving UL Lafayette, he worked at the Natchitoches Times in 1985-86 as the sports editor, then briefly attended graduate school at Louisiana-Monroe before joining the sports staff at Alexandria Town Talk in 1987. At the Town Talk, he won 15 Louisiana Sports Writers Association writing awards in 18 months while covering Northwestern State, high school and amateur sports, and LSU. His nine awards and six first places in the 1988 contest set an LSWA writing contest record.
In January 1989, Ireland took charge of athletic media relations at his alma mater, where he coordinates publicity efforts for Northwestern State’s 14 intercollegiate teams. While at Northwestern, Ireland has earned awards from the College Sports Information Directors of America, including his 1992 football media guide being named “Best in the Nation” in the FCS division.
He’s also earned writing and editing awards from the LSWA, including 27 honors since 2000. Among the highlights of his NSU career was the successful promotion of 1993 football senior offensive lineman Marcus Spears for the Football Writers Association of America All-America team, which made Spears a semifinalist for the Outland Trophy given to college football’s top lineman. Spears and legendary receiver Jerry Rice (Mississippi Valley) are the only two FCS players ever to earn a spot on the major college FWAA All-America Team.
Bonnette’s son, Matthew, was associate SID at NSU under Ireland for nine years and succeeded his father as SID at McNeese.