JoAn Scott MBA ’05 works for the NCAA as Managing Director of Men’s Basketball Championships and, no, she can’t get you tickets.
“From airport check-in to bellmen,” she said with a smile, “it’s always about tickets.” Scott oversees the Division I, II, and III men’s basketball tournaments and post-season NIT. That means loads of logistics—arena preparations, arranging flights and hotels, overseeing the music and fan festivals, public relations and marketing, and so much more. Planning with her staff of 12 begins in June and continues in earnest into March.
In addition, she’s in the room when the selection committee creates the brackets, and she’s at as many games as possible, making sure everything goes as planned.
“I have a radio in my ear, I have a cellphone, I have instant messaging, I have email,” Scott said. “Sometimes you have friends telling you something sounds weird, sometimes you hear the radio telling you a thunderstorm is coming. I’m pretty good at handling approaches from 5–6 different directions.”
Scott grew up a sports fan and athlete in Ansley, Nebraska, population 550. She did her undergraduate work at Kearney State University (now University of Nebraska at Kearney), then moved to Colorado after graduation. After a year working for a brokerage firm, she answered a newspaper classified ad for what was then called Amateur Basketball Association of the United States of America (now USA Basketball).
She spent 10 years there, accumulating experiences that included traveling with the 1992 men’s basketball Dream Team and “seeing basketball practices behind closed doors that no one will ever see.” Then she took a job with Nike, where she spent 17 years moving among Portland, Oregon; Indianapolis, Indiana; and Denver, Colorado.
During that time, she decided to get her MBA at Butler.
“I knew a lot of the sports side and I knew personalities,” she said. “But once I got to Nike, I felt like I didn’t know the business side. I traveled a lot, but it was my one night (to devote to school) and I just absolutely loved it. I was there to learn and I soaked it in and I loved it. I’m not sure anybody could enjoy it more than I did, and I still talk to my Butler professors.”
At Butler, she learned from Executive-in-Residence Jerry Toomer about leadership styles (“You adapt to your boss; your boss doesn’t adapt to you”), and she recalled the camaraderie in Marketing/Management Professor Bob Mackoy’s classes.
“I could interact with my whole class and ask Eli Lilly folks what they thought and Guidant folks what they thought,” she said. “They were so approachable. It felt like family there. It made me want to go, it made me want to learn.”
Scott said she learned a lot, and she continues to soak up information wherever she goes. “When you deal with the best of the best, you learn how to be the best,” she said.
She’s three years into her role at the NCAA now, and she has one more goal when she’s finished there.
“I’d love to end my career on a college campus, teaching,” she said. “I love to learn, and I would love to teach my experiences and what I learned along the way.”