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February 28, 2020

By Published by Ryan Gasser, Capital University sports information director | Photos by Joe Maiorana, Impact Action Sports Photography

What Does it Take to Host a National Tournament? You’re About to Find Out!

The NCAA Division III Women’s Basketball Tournament is coming to Capital University in late March. You don’t just open the doors for a national tournament and expect it to happen. So what does it take to pull off one of college basketball’s premier athletic events?

It isn’t quite like Santa Claus but the NCAA Tournament Final Four is like Christmas for those in the collegiate basketball world – and it’s coming to town!

On March 20 and 21, The Capital Center and the Performance Arena will transform into the home of the Division III Women’s Basketball National Championship and WBCA Senior All-Star Game.

So what goes into making this happen and, more importantly, making sure it’s done well?

The process begins with a bid, a not-so-simple ask to house a major event with proof that the University and the city is attractive and equipped properly to serve as a host. Those are submitted years in advance, so this event has been on the radar for a few years. Fresh off hosting the 2016 NCAA Division III Women’s Basketball Semifinals, Capital and its partner the Greater Columbus Sports Commission put in multiple bids to host additional NCAA Championship events through the 2022 school year. In 2017, the University learned it had been granted the 2020 women’s basketball championships and the NCAA Division III Volleyball Championship.

Capital is no stranger to major events. Its work in the 2016 Final Four plus hosting The Basketball Tournament (TBT) in 2018 and 2019 set the foundation for what is to come this March. Preparations for the event have been ongoing since August to lock in a myriad of small details, but the added challenge to this event is that it doesn’t just involve the NCAA.

The All-Star Game, an event for top-performing seniors across the country, is organized by the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association. As massive as a Final Four is, injecting another event inside of that is like stuffing an already-overflowing jelly donut!

So who do we call on to manage that over-stuffed donut? Dixie Jeffers, of course.

Jeffers, who is Capital’s associate athletic director, senior woman administrator and head women’s basketball coach, is the NCAA Tournament Columbus site director. Through her connections and what seems like constant contact with both organizations and all interested parties, the groundwork has been laid for what may be the best women’s basketball Final Four ever seen at this level.

The easy part is getting the court available for the game. But then there is:

  • Security (thanks CU Public Safety, Bexley and Columbus PD!)
  • Entertainment (welcome to Special Olympics Ohio, Canal Winchester Pep Band and the Dublin Sparks Jump Rope team!)
  • Broadcast/TV arrangements (Raycom/Tupelo will be providing a high-quality broadcast to bring to the country!)
  • Getting people in the building (marketing and media efforts supported by our friends at the Greater Columbus Sports Commission)
  • Organizing the welcome banquet with food, petting zoos, music, guest speakers and highlight videos

(Overwhelmed for us?)

  • Philanthropic projects for our incoming teams
  • Pre-, in- and post-game coverage and media arrangements
  • Photography to capture all the moments!
  • Concession staffing (thanks, Aladdin Dining!)
  • Parking, merchandise and ticketing attendants

(Are you in awe yet?)

  • Team hosts and guides
  • Statisticians
  • Graphics, floor and wall stickers (provided by our fav, Brock Schnitzer of Advance Printing & Graphics)
  • Building and facilities personnel (that’s you CU IT, electricians, maintenance and Aetna!)
  • Bexley and Columbus businesses and restaurants for opening their doors and proving why we’re the best!

I’m sure we’re missing a few things, but we’ll remember before the opening tip!

I suppose what we’re saying, and Coach Jeffers would concur, is that this event isn’t put on by one person. This is a collaborative effort that relies on the contributions of many in order for the event to succeed. It takes countless phone calls, emails and face-to-face meetings to meticulously put all of the puzzle pieces in place.

You’ll see Capital University and Athletics staff members donating their time and effort to run the event. Capital Women’s Basketball players will be on the front lines staffing key areas to make the operations flow smoothly. Community members, business leaders and dedicated friends and fans will make this the best NCAA Women’s Basketball Final Four yet! Basketball fans from around the city and all over the country will be touring the Greater Columbus area and our campus, and together we will make sure they never forget us or the time they spent here.