Betty Jaynes is the real deal when it comes to the mock selections that the Division I Women’s Basketball Committee and the NCAA staff stage regularly in Indianapolis.

The Women’s Basketball Coaches Association’s first executive director has been to all eight of them, including the most recent one last Saturday and Sunday, dutifully driving from her Atlanta home to attend an exercise that gives coaches and administrators an open look at what goes on behind closed doors in March.

Jaynes is currently neither a coach nor an administrator (she’s a consultant for the WBCA), but she’s still among the most iconic figures in the game today.

She attends the mock selections for two reasons. One, Jaynes believes it’s important for the WBCA to have a presence in such a pivotal educational exercise for coaches. She and WBCA chief executive officer Beth Bass both participate and network throughout the sessions.

But Jaynes also is there to learn. Because there’s so much to the selection process, Jaynes said she can focus on a particular component each time, from officiating to bracketing to seeding to understanding the RPI.

Participants in the July 16-17 Mock Selections
Courtney Banghart, Princeton
Tricia Binford, Montana State
Rae Blair, UTSA
Betsy Blose, UNC Asheville
Matt Bollant, Green Bay
Maria Fantanarosa, Miami (Ohio)
Aaron Johnston, South Dakota State
Karen Kemp, East Tennessee State
Jolette Law, Illinois
Melissa McFerrin, Memphis
Wes Moore, Chattanooga
Teri Moren, Indiana State
Julie Rousseau, Pepperdine
Tricia Sacca-Fabbri, Quinnipiac
Brady Sallee, Eastern Illinois
Terry Zeh, Canisius
Conference Administrators
Meghan Bertovich, Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference
Donyale Canada, Mid-American Conference
Danielle Donehew, Big East Conference
Keisha Dunlap, Conference USA
Brad Hecker, Atlantic Coast Conference
Christiana Johns, Sun Belt Conference
Ralph Ventre, Northeast Conference
Richard Wanninger, Patriot League
Tammy Wilson, Southeastern Conference
Committee Representatives
Renee Baumgartner, incoming committee member, executive senior associate athletics director at Oregon
Sybil Blalock, current committee member, senior associate athletics director at Mercer
Shonna Brown, incoming committee member, interim commissioner of America East
Rich Ensor, outgoing committee member, commissioner of the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference
Marilyn McNeil, outgoing committee chair, vice president and director of athletics at Monmouth
WBCA Representatives
Beth Bass, chief executive officer
Betty Jaynes, consultant
Jack Watford, director of communications

“We want to be visible to let them know that they have our full support,” Jaynes said during a lunch break on the first day of the two-day exercise. “When they see us here, they know we think it is extremely important. These sessions have been effective in reducing the amount of noise surrounding the bracket in recent years. And the coaches who participate go tell their peers, and then they tell theirs, and it spreads throughout the conferences. And nobody is saying it’s a bad experience, either.”

To be sure, it is Jaynes’ experience that has helped build the game.

She was the head women’s basketball coach at James Madison from 1970 to 1982, regularly leading squads to the state and regional playoffs of the Association of Intercollegiate Athletics for Women (AIAW).

When the NCAA began sponsoring women’s sports in the early 1980s, key coaches like Pat Summitt, Kay Yow, Theresa Grentz and Vivian Stringer headed a group that met at the 1981 Olympic Festival in Syracuse to discuss forming a coaches association.

Jill Hutchinson, coach of the 1984 Olympic team, was selected as the first president of the then nameless organization during the summer of 1981. Jaynes, who was still coaching at James Madison, was named interim executive director. Jaynes officially resigned as head coach at James Madison after the 1981-82 season and operated the WBCA office with an intern in Wayne, Pa.

Jaynes moved the WBCA office to Atlanta in 1985 and remained as the organization’s executive director until 1996 when she became the WBCA’s first CEO. She handed those reins to Bass in 2001 when she retired but has stayed on as a consultant.

Under Jaynes’ direction, the WBCA grew from its 212-member group into a 4,000-member giant. Today, the WBCA is considered a leading resource, voice and advocate for women’s and girls’ basketball at every level.

“I am so proud of the way the WBCA membership has remained consistent over the years,” Jaynes said. “I also am proud of our award programs, our communication efforts and the education resources we offer, which is what our membership has said it wants.”

Jaynes, who has been awarded countless accolades herself – including the coveted John Bunn Lifetime Achievement Award from the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame – also praises the high-profile coaches over the years who have given their time and trust to an organization that has continued to flourish.

“The officers in our early days were certainly important because they were the trailblazers in the sport, but recent presidents such as Wendy Larry, Geno Auriemma and Sherri Coale – when they are that visible as president of the WBCA, it goes a long way with media and even fellow coaches, because people see that those coaches who are winning championships are proud of our organization.”

They’ve gone through the mock selections, too. The most recent edition included coaches from several conferences that hadn’t been represented before. All conferences have now had the chance to participate.

“There always are ah-ha moments in every one of these sessions,” Jaynes said, “usually during the portion when teams are moved within the bracket. But invariably, our coaches buy into the process and latch onto it. They might not agree with everything everyone in the room says, but that’s natural. Just like in March when the committee does the real selecting, these are human beings who are trying to carry out principles – there’s such a human side to this that is important to understand.”

Jaynes said the mocks have helped shed light on a process that used to be in the dark.

“The perception certainly was that everything was locked up in a vault,” Jaynes said. “All the coaches felt that the selection process was secretive and that there were conspiracies. Most of that is gone now – everything is as open as possible, so that the coaches can see, as long as they understand that there still are some human decisions being made.”

Jaynes knows a thing or two about the human side. She has a connection with seemingly everyone.

“There’s nobody like Betty Jaynes,” NCAA vice president for women’s basketball Sue Donohoe said. “She has helped build the college game from the ground up and has added an organizational element that has allowed coaches to thrive in their profession. I’m always thrilled to see her and Beth at these mock selections. I appreciate their commitment not only to these exercises but to the betterment of our game.”