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Volume 21 No. 1
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Spotlight: JoAn Scott, NCAA

Nike alumna is on the march to March Madness

JoAn Scott spent 17 years “learning from some of the most creative people in the business” at Nike. She brings those lessons to her new role at the NCAA.

Age: 49 … and a 1/2.
New title: Managing director of the Men’s NCAA Division I Basketball Championship.
Previous title: Director of governing body relations, Nike Sports Marketing.
First job: Swim instructor and lifeguard.
College education: University of Nebraska Kearney undergraduate and Butler University MBA.
Resides: Indianapolis.
Grew up: Ansley, Neb.
Executives you most admire: Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany, Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby and Tom Jernstedt, senior adviser to the Big East.
Favorite vacation spot: Ansley, Neb. (Population 555), and Lanai, Hawaii (Population 3,000-plus). I will always be a small-town girl.
Last book read: “Gone Girl,” by Gillian Flynn.
Last movie seen: “Gravity” in 3-D.
Favorite movie: “Argo.”
Favorite musician/band: Raised on country music, but my “go to” is James Taylor..

What is the biggest challenge in your new position?
The most immediate challenge will be meeting and understanding the roles of the various folks involved with the tournament, including the NCAA staff, basketball committee members, television executives, local organizing committees, hosts and volunteers.  

What’s the biggest risk you’ve taken professionally?  
Working with my team to sign Gabby Douglas, Shawn Johnson and Misty May-Treanor as Nike athletes even though none of them wore footwear during their competitions. All three were great for our brand, were incredible athletes and even better human beings.   

What is your biggest professional accomplishment?  
Definitely the experience and learning while working for the 1992 Olympic men’s Dream Team and USA Basketball. Imagine traveling/working for the basketball version of the Beatles. It was surreal.

What is your biggest professional disappointment?
Any time we didn’t win the gold medal in ANY men’s or women’s competition while at USA Basketball.  

What career advice would you give people who want to get into sports business?
Your success will be heavily based on the authentic relationships you build, internally and externally.  

What is one story you’re watching in sports?   
With years of preparation at Nike and the Sochi Olympic and Paralympic Games in February and my new responsibilities with the NCAA Division I Basketball Championship in March/April, I will be watching both and proud to be a part of both.

What is one element of the sports industry you’d like to see changed?  
More positive storytelling on athletes, coaches and sports in general.