Tom Jernstedt

Tom Jernstedt’s introduction to the NCAA came when the former star athlete at tiny Yamhill Carlton High School became a reserve on the University of Oregon football team. The sometimes second-string – and more often third-string – quarterback proved himself a leader despite a lack of playing time. And while football was his primary interest in those days, he would leave a lasting mark on basketball starting in 1972 when he was hired as the director of events at the NCAA and worked his first Final Four. Nearly 50 years later, the madness and the magic of March still reflects the vision and the leadership Jernstedt brought to the NCAA throughout his career. He helped steer the NCAA Tournament through television contracts, tournament expansion, the shift to domed stadiums, and the often landmine-riddled selection process. Jernstedt was the architect, the conductor, and the engineer all rolled into one, and under his direction the Tournament grew into the phenomenon that makes March a college basketball fan’s favorite time of the year.