JoAn Scott on March Madness, Digital Growth & Women in Sports

The Managing Director of the NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship joins me on Sports Business Radio.

JoAn Scott, Managing Director of the NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship

This transcript has been edited and condensed for clarity.

Brian Berger: I’m a native of Phoenix, and the Final Four is headed to my home town. The Final Four hasn’t been in the West since 1995 when it was in Seattle. Why has it taken so long to bring this thing back West?

JoAn Scott: There just aren’t any stadiums out West that have a roof that can host our basketball tournament. Phoenix is one of the cities that can and we’re excited that we’re going West. It’s a national tournament so we want to cover the entire United States when we host.

Brian Berger: Selfishly, being from the West I would love to see the tournament come to Phoenix more often. Have you developed a rotation of those big venues that you know are going to host every couple of years?

JoAn Scott: Well there’s about ten to eleven venues across the United States that can host it, but we still use a bid process. We still put it out to bid and the cities that want to bid for it do, and a lot of the times it’s not just venues. We need a lot of convention center space and a lot of hotel rooms too.

Brian Berger: One of the things I’ve really enjoyed watching over the years with this tournament is the growth to the digital platforms. There’s the streaming element in addition to watching on T.V. and isn’t it back on CBS this year? As far as the Final Four TBS was last year, doesn’t it alternate?

JoAn Scott: Yes it does, and it is on CBS this year. That’s what’s really changing in our space of college basketball and March Madness, is the many platforms and the many ways it’s being consumed. March Madness live is hitting record breaking numbers. Every year we seem to surpass the year before. It’s incredible not just being able to watch it on March Madness Live, but also on all of the other digital assets.

Brian Berger: I just love how the tournament has embraced the digital platform. I’ve been reading more about chord cutters but then I heard a term called the “cord never”. A lot of the millennials have never watched March Madness on T.V, only on their mobile devices, so these are the “chord nevers”. They can now consume this content just as easily.

March Madness live is hitting record breaking numbers.

JoAn Scott: Yes, and again it’s being able to watch and share it, and have that emotional tie in to it. One of our strategic priorities is reaching a new demographic. Our folks at Turner do a phenomenal job in reaching the millennials.

Student Athlete Accommodations

Brian Berger: Lets talk about the benefits for the students, especially the ones making the Final Four. You really wanted to make sure that athletes and their families were able to attend the Final Four.

There was a stipend put in place, an athlete brunch, and gift packages which I think is really cool. It seems like every year you are listening to how you can make this a better experience for them.

JoAn Scott: Yes, I think that’s a big part of this. When you get to these big events, you have to remember that people are competing for a National Championship and in this instance they’re teenagers. The general public forgets they’re taking finals, they have study hall, they have little brothers and sisters they haven’t seen and are so excited. We are doing the family stipend again, we’re also doing the pregame brunch.

The general public forgets they’re taking finals, they have study hall, they have little brothers and sisters they haven’t seen and are so excited.

Brian Berger: That’s great, if you’re a kid playing in this thing you want your parents there. You want to share this with them, and if they can’t be there it kind of stinks.

Women Working in Sports

Brian Berger: You’re a woman working in sports which isn’t an easy position. It’s still way too male dominated in my opinion. How and why have you advanced, and what still needs to be done for women working in sports?

JoAn Scott: I have advanced because I had men looking out for me. What you need is for men to advocate for women, for men to be the ones that step up and demand that diversity.

I had men looking out for me… I’ve been around men’s basketball all my life and I have men administrators that believed in me.

What you need is for men to advocate for women.

Listen to the full conversation:

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