Our cover incorporating images of all 65 invitees to the NCAA tournament required some prognostication on the part of our college basketball staff, which is headed up by senior editor Dick Friedman. Most of the pieces of our cover collage needed to be assembled well before the NCAA announced its official brackets on Sunday night, so Friedman convened his own selection committee a week beforehand. At the close of the regular season he and the rest of the basketball staff had determined 50 likely invitees and funneled their names to art director Ed Truscio, who began assembling the cover image. As conference tournaments progressed, Friedman added a few schools to the list each day. ( Colorado State was the last addition.) "We wanted the cover to capture the madness," Friedman says, "and it's been madness here all week."
Don Van Natta Jr.
In his new book, First off the Tee: Presidential Hackers, Duffers, and Cheaters from Taft to Bush, Don Van Natta Jr. chronicles the often dubious golf habits of our White House occupants. But the only president Van Natta actually played a round with is Bill Clinton, and in this issue we excerpt his account of that unique trip around the Golf Club of Purchase (N.Y.) in 2002. Van Natta, then a New York Times correspondent and now an investigative reporter for the paper, was surprised that Clinton accepted his invitation, because Van Natta had been told that Clinton hated an earlier story he had written on the president's rule-bending ways (in golf). Van Natta gives Clinton high ratings as a playing partner: The ex-prez was a joy to play with, even as he shamelessly took the extra swings that Van Natta came to term Billigans. "I don't think Bill Clinton really realizes he bends the rules," Van Natta says. "He's had so many years of presidential privileges, I don't even think he notices it."
Brutal hockey injuries are nothing new to senior writer E.M. Swift. Five years ago he and former Boston University player Travis Roy cowrote the book Eleven Seconds: A Story of Tragedy, Courage, & Triumph, about the cracked vertebrae Roy sustained in his first varsity game, which left him a paraplegic. Three years later Swift wrote for SI about the hideous eye injury of Toronto's Bryan Berard. This week he tells the story of another fallen player, Merrimack goaltender Joe Exter, who has wavered between critical and serious condition since colliding with a Boston College player.