SBJ/Nov. 8-14, 2010/SBJ In-Depth

Showing he’s more than just a basketball guy

Greg Shaheen’s years at the NCAA have been rightfully linked to the growth of the basketball tournament and the Final Four. But his new role is showing that he’s more than just a basketball guy.

Shaheen was promoted from senior vice president to executive vice president in August by new NCAA President Mark Emmert. Now Shaheen, a 10-year veteran of the association, oversees all 88 NCAA championships in all divisions.

Shaheen used to say that half of every day was spent working on the basketball tournament. That’s not necessarily the case anymore, although it still demands a significant amount of his time.

But instead of working to make sure all of the officials have a place to park, Shaheen is working from more of a 30,000-foot view. He’s started the planning for the 2013 basketball tournament, which will be the NCAA’s 75th championship, and he’s looking ahead to future Final Four sites.

“A lot of it is planning for the following year or years,” Shaheen said. “There are so many marketing and media pieces that have to be connected that you can’t just plan one or two years out. We’re taking serious looks at our championships through at least 2016.”

Shaheen also is spearheading an effort to better connect each of the NCAA’s championship events, whether it’s through cross-promotional opportunities or NCAA corporate involvement with the championships that sometimes fly under the radar, like hockey or lacrosse. Capital One was a presenting sponsor of the College World Series last summer.

About once a quarter, NCAA officials from each of its championship events gather at the headquarters in Indianapolis to share ideas and best practices that might have a use in another sport. One idea is to recognize a championship team or multiple teams at center court of the Final Four during halftime or a timeout.

“We want to continue looking for ways to tell the really remarkable stories of these championships,” Shaheen said. “In these meetings, we’re trying to have a broader vision that maybe this idea or that idea can apply to a variety of championships. It’s been an interesting process. It’s been very helpful for the men’s basketball staff, for example, to learn how other championships are operated.”

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