By Zach Carter
When someone gets inducted into the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame, they get a drawing created for them.
Delta graduate and Purdue University Head Coach Matt Painter will be one of 17 new inductees on March 23.
One little known fact about this is that the artist creating the images for Painter and the other inductees is a Delta graduate himself.
Chad Niccum graduated from Delta in 1986. He was a senior when Painter was a freshman.
Growing up, most of his family was not into sports.
“(Sports) was something from a young age that I had a passion for,” Niccum says. “‘My grandma was a huge baseball fan and she was the only one that was a sports fan in my family. She was the one that taught me how to throw a baseball.”
During his high school days, Niccum was the sports editor, art director and business manager for the Eagle’s Eye school newspaper. He also served as the vice president for the Art Honor Society.
As a teenager, Niccum would begin to do public address announcing at local youth baseball and football games. Then after high school, he started to do more and more.
Shortly after high school, Niccum started his 30-year radio career at WERK as an on-air personality and program director.
In 1999, he became the voice of New Castle High School sports, where one of his favorite memories happened.
“Getting to (announce) a three-peat (state championship) for New Castle Volleyball was definitely one of the highlights of my career,” Niccum says.
He also names doing the PA when Delta volleyball won state in the early 2000s as one of those experiences as well.
He has been a public address announcer for Indiana high school sports for years. He has served as the voice for the IHSAA State Finals in volleyball, girls’ basketball and boys’ basketball. He has also announced the consolation round for the wrestling state finals and in the past has served as the state finals announcer for softball and football.
Another big event in high school sports he announces is the Indiana-Kentucky All-Star basketball series.
He also has been the voice of selected spots at Ball State University, Earlham College, and for the Indiana Fever women’s professional basketball team.
A few years ago he hit a big milestone for the number of games for which he has served as public address announcer.
“A couple years ago, I hit the 4,000 mark,” Niccum says. “That is a huge goal that a lot of the PA guys strive for. There’s not a lot of guys that get that. At one point, I would say I probably did 300 games a year. Now, I have kind of cut back to maybe 100.”
For this work, he won the 2010 National High School Sports Public Address Announcer of the Year,
Niccum doesn’t plan to stop until the job becomes no fun.
“If it gets to the point where it is not fun, I think you have to take on the same thought as playing a sport,” he says. “So when it is not fun anymore and you don’t enjoy it, you have to move on. Right now I enjoy the relationships that I have made through sports and announcing.”
At the games, he sees kids he coached in little league and parents that he went to school with. He’s even starting to see kids whose parents he announced for.
The art side of his career has gotten him big-time experiences. From working on projects for Kevin Hart and Taylor Swift to Garth Brooks and the Indiana Pacers, Niccum does art for many people. He has painted basketballs, posters, and has done many more pieces of art.
He also does work for Indiana high schools. His job for the Pacers and Indiana high schools is to paint basketballs for athletes that reach a certain accomplishment. He currently is the artist for the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame.
When it comes to this drawing of Matt Painter, Niccum is excited to partake in this moment. This will be the first Delta graduate to be inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame.
“You think of some of the great players we’ve had through the years and history of the school,” Niccum says. “Of course Matt is one that sticks out because of him moving on to Purdue and playing and coaching there. It makes it a big deal. It feels like the high school and the basketball program are finally getting some notoriety.”
There are other Eagles that Niccum would like to see get into the Hall of Fame some day. The names Paul Keller and the Robbins brothers, Rob and Kelly, are ones that he mentions.
“A couple years ago, (former Delta Athletic Director) Grant Zgunda did the paperwork for Keller and I went and spoke to the selection committee to push for Keller to get in (sometime in the future),” he says.