Final Four hosts take lead in planning
HOUSTON -- While college athletic directors across the country manage and host large sporting events, few have the privilege of working with the NCAA Men’s Final Four. Local Athletic Directors Rick Greenspan, Rice University, and Mack Rhoades, University of Houston, have discovered what a tall order the NCAA Men’s Final Four can be – with all the events surrounding the tournament.
Houston was awarded the honor of hosting this celebrated event in 2003. While neither Greenspan nor Rhoades were at their current posts at this time, both have ample experience working in intercollegiate athletics.
Greenspan brings 30 years of administrative and managerial experience in intercollegiate athletics, physical education and recreation at public and private universities to his position as the leader of Rice Athletics and Recreation. From 1999 to 2004, Greenspan served as director of intercollegiate athletics at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, where he managed a 25-sport NCAA Division I intercollegiate athletics program.
Prior to West Point, he was the athletic director at Illinois State University from 1993-1999. Following his productive stints at these two institutions, Greenspan held the same position at Indiana University where he helped lead the construction of numerous new athletics structures and refurbished outdated facilities. He has also held administrative positions in the athletic and recreation departments at the University of Miami, the University of California-Berkeley, the University of New Hampshire, and at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. With all of the experience Greenspan has amassed, he understands what an event like this means to the host city and its area institutions.
“The Final Four is a marvelous event for the city and a tremendous opportunity to show the rest of the nation what we have to offer,” said Greenspan. “So many Houstonians have stepped up to volunteer their time to make this year’s event truly special. At Rice, our students have seized upon this opportunity in both the classroom and in the various community service projects created by the local organizing committee. As a world class academic institution, we have advocated that our undergraduates take advantage of this ‘living laboratory’ as further enhancement to the diverse set of experiences that are unique to Rice University.”
Like Greenspan, Rhoades has a distinguished career in intercollegiate athletics. Before being named Athletic Director at University of Houston in 2009, Rhoades held the same position at the University of Akron since 2006. During his tenure at Akron, the university saw nearly 70 percent of its student-athletes graduate; 16 championships were won; 10 student-athletes were named
MAC Players of the Year; and nine student-athletes were named All-American. Rhoades was
also instrumental in the construction of InfoCision Stadium, where the University of Akron currently plays its home football games.
Prior to the University of Akron, Rhoades was a senior associate and assistant athletic director at the University of Texas El-Paso. When it comes to understanding the magnitude of hosting a Final Four, Rhoades shares similar sentiments with Greenspan.
"There are certain events that are on your must-do list as an athletic administrator and the Final Four may be near the top," said Rhoades. "It has been such a memorable and invaluable experience to be a part of putting on an event of this magnitude. The local organizing committee and the many volunteers have put in countless hours to make Houston a standout destination for major sports. I know we are all excited about showing off our hometown."
Successfully hosting a large-scale event like the Final Four is no small feat – and is one that requires years of experience. Greenspan and Rhoades are fit for the job, and with the help of co-hosts Rice University, the University of Houston and the entire Houston Local Organizing Committee, the 2011 Division I Men’s Final Four promises to be a memorable event.