NCAA Final Four® organizing committee led by UIW alumna
By Rick Smith ‘09
Assistant Director of Alumni Relations
In April, four women’s basketball teams will emerge from the NCAA Division I Women’s Basketball bracket of 64 teams, all vying to be crowned the 2010 National Champions. By the time the teams make it to San Antonio for the NCAA Final Four®, UIW alumna Jenny Carnes ’99 will be ready to put on a show for the whole world to see and over 25,000 fans to enjoy live.
“My time and experience as a UIW student-athlete not only gave me lifelong friendships, but it also provided me with the confidence I needed to enter the workforce and showed me how to live a balanced life of family, faith, service and career,” said Carnes.
Carnes graduated from UIW with a bachelor’s degree in business administration. While at UIW, she played four years of basketball and two years of tennis. In 1999, she was the first-ever UIW basketball player to be named NAIA All-American.
The road to the NCAA Women’s Final Four® started two years ago for Carnes, who is the executive director of the Local Organizing Committee (LOC) for San Antonio Sports.
As LOC executive director, Carnes leads a team of individuals from the City of San Antonio, the University of Texas at San Antonio (the host institution) and San Antonio Sports, charged with the task of hosting the Final Four®. The LOC has a variety of responsibilities including securing sponsorships, reserving hotels for teams, officials, NCAA staff, media and fans, creating hospitality events, coordinating meals and transportation logistics, and finding over 1,000 volunteers to help run the Final Four®.
“A Final Four® not only brings thousands of visitors to our community, it also creates an immeasurable amount of media exposure throughout the entire basketball season,” said Carnes. “Just as important, the event creates a number of opportunities for our local youth to get involved through basketball clinics, school programs that promote healthy lifestyles and learning, college fairs and scholarships, and fan festivals.
To win the bid to host the NCAA Women’s Final Four®, the LOC authored a proposal that included two parts – a technical portion outlining the facilities and hotel contracts, and a creative portion highlighting the city, the committee and past experiences. The San Antonio LOC submitted their bid in 2003 and was awarded the 2008 Men’s Final Four® and the 2010 Women’s Final Four®.
Behind all of the fan fare and celebrations, the pep rallies and river rallies, the pre-game activities, the hotels, the food, the vendors, the music, and of course the basketball games, is UIW alumna Jenny Carnes ’99.
“Knowing that I am contributing to an experience of a lifetime for student-athletes is a tremendous feeling,” she said. “The job can be stressful at times, but when the buzzer goes off at the end of a National Championship game and the confetti falls, it’s all worth it.”