SPRINGFIELD, MASS. – The Basketball Hall of Fame Family celebrates the life and mourns the passing of legendary basketball administrator Tom Jernstedt. Jernstedt, enshrined as a member of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2017, has passed away at the age of 75.
“Tom Jernstedt was a humble and unsung steward of the game,” said John L. Doleva, President and CEO of the Basketball Hall of Fame. “Under his direction, the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament grew into a phenomenon that brings college basketball fans together on a global scale. He will forever be remembered as the Father of the Final Four and one of the most respected leaders in basketball.”
Tom Jernstedt’s introduction to the NCAA came as a reserve on the University of Oregon football team. Despite a lack of playing time, he proved himself to be a leader in athletics. While football was his primary interest early in life, 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 selection process. He also served as the President of USA Basketball from 2001 to 2004 and was the 2001 recipient of the John Bunn Lifetime Achievement Award.
USA Basketball CEO Jim Tooley issued the following statement regarding the passing of Jernstedt:
USA Basketball is greatly saddened to learn of the passing of Tom Jernstedt. A USA Basketball Board of Directors member for many years and the USA Basketball president from 2001-04, Tom was a steadfast supporter and a tireless contributor to USA Basketball, international basketball and the NCAA. He cared greatly about the sport of basketball and even more about the athletes and coaches who represented USA Basketball. Tom was a good friend and mentor to me and to many others at USA Basketball. He will be missed. Our thoughts and prayers go to the Jernstedt family.