Beyond Box Scores: The logistics of running an NCAA regional
By Rob Daniels
Although the union he's brokering will last only a few days and is expected to end amicably, Tim George thinks he knows what a wedding planner feels like.
UNCG's associate athletics director is the chief administrator of the NCAA Division I Men's Golf Regional, which the university is hosting at Greensboro’s Grandover Resort this week. And as such, he's got a checklist of details that would make any matrimonial manager at least nod in recognition. Catering? Confirm the fruit with Dining Services. Transportation? Five vans' worth. And thunderstorms? Consult the radar and pray.
"The No. 1 thing is the weather," George said, "because that can throw the whole thing off."
That "whole thing" involves far more than setting tee times and telling 75 players to have at it. The effort is a venture between UNCG athletics, the Greensboro Sports Commission and NCAA administrators, and it will require nearly 200 staff and volunteers.
The Greensboro Sports Council, a volunteer organization that serves as a liaison between the city, chamber of commerce and various events, appoints some of its members as official team hosts, and they were the first people from the city to contact the 14 participating teams upon their selection and assignment to the Greensboro regional. The hosts greeted the teams that came by plane, and they hail from as far away as UNLV, but every host is available to facilitate everything from restaurant reservations to the mundane.
"We're here to give them a good Greensboro welcome," said Steve Warren, the welcoming panelist for Texas Tech and George Washington.
Once, Warren said, that meant getting a team's laundry done off-site.
The Sports Council’s work is part of an outreach effort that has put the city on the NCAA's hosting radar in several sports.
"One of the things Greensboro is known for is not saying no to a request," UNCG athletics director Kim Record said.
Running the event, she said, is a part of being a good sporting citizen of a vibrant area. To that end, the Sports Council hosted a reception for student-athletes and coaches, and it did so at the ACC's Hall of Champions at the Greensboro Coliseum on Wednesday. No, the university is not a candidate to join that league.
"Some might wonder about that," Record said. "But I think being in ACC country is an enhancement rather than a competition."
As for competition – the kind that tees off Thursday morning – George rattled off 29 points of emphasis at a recent staff meeting. Fellow administrators rounded up every tent they could get their hands on around campus, and if they needed more, they sought out others around town. Several businesses donate snacks, but man cannot drive and putt on soda alone. That's where the UNCG catering folks come in.
The NCAA helps with the weather. At least as much as it can. The championships folks from Indianapolis provide top UNCG administrators with a desktop computer and phone application armed with radar. If lightning strikes in a 15-mile radius of the course, play is suspended. Five vans are deployed throughout the layout to pick up players and get them out of harm's way.
Volunteers are all over the course as walking scorekeepers, standard-bearers and spotters. If somebody's drive errs from the fairway, observers find it, wave and flag and keep play at an acceptable pace. More complex questions are answered by USGA-approved rules officials, who can be summoned to any spot on the course in short order.
Roving scorers radio every player's score on every hole to a central dispatch location. Fans can therefore follow the event in real time from coast to coast.
It will end Saturday, when the top finishers at Grandover will advance to next week's NCAA championships. At that point, everybody around here can resume normal sleep patterns.
- UNCG -