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A method to the madness

NCAA vice presidents reflect on their experiences overseeing championship events

Dan Gavitt, Vice President of Men’s Basketball Championships:

Dan Gavitt

The first Final Four I saw in person was in 1979, when the championship game was played between Michigan State and Indiana State in Salt Lake City, Utah, featuring Magic Johnson and Larry Bird. It’s still the most memorable for me because it was my first Final Four, but also because of the historical significance that game has 30 years later.

Since then, I wanted to work for the NCAA because of the special nature of the tournament and how treasured it is by the entire country. I also believe in everything that the NCAA stands for in amateur college athletics, and I wanted to be part of that team effort.

I’m here every day for the student-athletes, the coaches and all those around them – their family members, administrators and all those who are part of men’s basketball. I always try to keep them in mind when I do my job. We seek perfection, a flawless championship, so the only thing that fans and athletes remember is the positive experience of the competition.

Anucha Browne, Vice President of Women’s Basketball Championships:

Anucha Browne

Women’s basketball changed my life. It took me from a pretty rough area in Brooklyn to Northwestern University, and I got my degree. It taught me many lessons about discipline and worth ethic, and it catapulted me to a career in sports. I think that’s where it starts. My dedication to this game isn’t just about the fact that it’s a great job, but it’s about what it does for the student-athlete.

What keeps me up at night is figuring out how I make this better, how I can continue to improve the experience and how I can ensure that women’s basketball remains on the right trajectory.

It’s one of the most diverse sports that we have, and that’s because of the ease of access. There isn’t a huge cost; you can play it anywhere. I’m concerned with how to keep it there, and to continue to give these women a chance to improve their lives through basketball.

I will be satisfied when every gym at every round of our championship is sold out, because we want our athletes to be playing in front of huge crowds. That, for me, would be the ultimate success.

Joni Comstock, Senior Vice President of Championships:

Joni Comstock

The NCAA has 23 sports and my staff works on all of them. One of the many reasons I love my job is because I have involvement in all three divisions and all 23 sports.  Our sport committees and team of staff are engaged in planning and running championship in all three seasons of the academic year.

Our team handles 75 of the 89 (soon to be 90) NCAA championships. We provide leadership and support to each of the sport committees that oversee those championships, the experience of the student-athletes in each championship and we ensure that these events are conducted in a manner determined by our membership. Each year we manage the logistics and planning from the initial development of each event to working with selections of teams and fields to then being on site to work at the national championship.

My favorite part of a championship is feeling so proud of the fact that we have worked through the year to provide all of the pieces of that championship. When the athletes arrive, we want to ensure that they have a solid stage to play out the dreams that they’ve had, in some cases, for their entire lives.