A legendary college basketball figure has died at the age of 75.
Tom Jernstedt, known to many as the father of the Final Four, passed away over the weekend. He’s arguably the most-influential figure in the history of March Madness.
Tributes for Jernstedt have been pouring in from all over the college basketball world.
The NABC joins in mourning the death of longtime NCAA executive Tom Jernstedt.
Tom was the architect of the modern NCAA Tournament and a friend and advocate to countless coaches. Our sport owes a lot to Tom’s impact. pic.twitter.com/cVp2LTeVsv
— NABC (@NABC1927) September 6, 2020
“A decade after his departure from the NCAA, Tom Jernstedt’s fingertips remain visible during March Madness and the Final Four,” NCAA senior vice president Dan Gavitt said in a statement. “His innovation and superb ability to develop relationships turned a basketball tournament into a three-week phenomenon that became a global event.”
“(Tom’s) legacy within the NCAA and its membership, and his impact on the sport of college basketball, is eternal.”
NCAA SVP Dan Gavitt extends his deepest condolences to the family of Tom Jernstedt. pic.twitter.com/hNlv34SgfW
— NCAA March Madness (@marchmadness) September 6, 2020
Villanova head coach Jay Wright posted a heartfelt statement, too.
“Tom Jernstedt was a true college basketball visionary and a great man. His impact and legacy will always live on across our sport. Sending our condolences to the Jernstedt family,” he wrote.
Tom Jernstedt was a true college basketball visionary and a great man . His impact and legacy will always live on across our sport . Sending our condolences to the Jernstedt family . RIP .
— Jay Wright (@VUCoachJWright) September 6, 2020
Jernstedt, who played college football at Oregon, is credited with the expansion of the NCAA Tournament, the marketing of the term “Final Four” and the massive broadcasting deal with CBS and Turner Sports. He helped make the NCAA Tournament one of the biggest events in global sports.
Our thoughts are with Tom’s friends and family during this difficult time.
May he rest in peace.