Jim Delany, Dave Gavitt and C.M. Newton to be presented Tom Jernstedt Lifetime Achievement Award


Alexis Baker, Staff Writer

Jim Delany, Dave Gavitt and C.M. Newton will be presented with the inaugural Tom Jernstedt Lifetime Achievement Award at the 2023 Men’s Final Four in Houston, Texas, on Monday, April 3, 2023.

The awards will be honored “while fans, former colleagues and friends celebrate the life of Tom Jernstedt – the ‘Father of the Final Four’,” a press release from the Indiana Sports Corp announced.

Jernstedt, who joined the NCAA in 1972, played a key role in forming the Division-I Men’s Basketball Championship into the event we know today.

“He served as executive vice president and oversaw the day-to-day operations of March Madness, the expansion of participating teams from 25 to 68 and the selection of larger sites, including domed stadiums, for the Final Four games,” the release said.

While Jernstedt is renowned for his career triumphs, the award was named after him more for who he was away from the game.

“Jernstedt was a passionate leader and administrator whose connection with many impacted countless lives and careers,” the release said. “Many people described him as the type of person to make time for everyone, thoughtful, respectful, likable, and honest.”

Looking closer at those being honored for the awards, all share an extensive career history.

Delany got his start playing college basketball at North Carolina, where he participated in two Final Fours. After his time at North Carolina, he began his career in college athletics administration at the NCAA in 1975. Over the years he expanded and improved his resume while contributing to the association.

“Delany oversaw the creation of the Big Ten Network and the expansion of the conference to 11 schools in 1990 and to 14 schools in 2011,” the release said.

Delaney remained an influential figure in college athletics until retiring and stepped down from the Big Ten Conference on Jan. 1, 2020.

Gavitt began his career at Dartmouth in 1959, where he also played college basketball.

He went on to complete a successful coaching career that included multiple NCAA appearances before going on to hold prominent conference and committee positions that put him in a position to make decisions. 

“Gavitt was CEO of the Boston Celtics from 1990 to 1994, President of the NCAA Foundation from 1995 to 1997, and Chairman of the Board of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame until 2003,” the release said.

Gavitt died on Sep. 16, 2011, at the age of 73.

Finally, Newton was a member of the 1950-51 Kentucky basketball team that won the national championship.

Similar to Gavitt, Newton spent many years of his career coaching, taking the reins at Transylvania, Alabama and Vanderbilt.

Newton was appointed Kentucky’s Athletic Director in 1989 and joined the NCAA Division-I men’s basketball committee in 1992.

“Aside from college basketball, Newton served as an assistant coach under Bob Knight for the gold medal-winning 1984 United States men’s Olympic basketball team,” the release said. “From 1992 to 1996, Newton served as the president of USA Basketball, also known for his contributions to the 1996 Dream Team III.”

Newton died on June 4, 2018, at the age of 88.