Bill Bradshaw Brings March Madness to Philadelphia's Temple University

As host to the NCAA Men’s Division I Basketball Championship, the university and Bradshaw are prepared for the crush of journalists, players, coaches and fans for a heavy dose of literal "March Madness."

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Bill Bradshaw, Temple University’s athletic director, at the Liacouras Center. (Photo by Jared Castaldi)
The way Bill Bradshaw sees it, the NCAA is an extremely easy organization to get along with. Just do what the folks in Indianapolis say, and everything will be fine. Athletic director at Temple University and a resident of Radnor, Bradshaw is in charge of the weeklong NCAA Men’s Division I Basketball Championship set to kick off at the Wells Fargo Center this month. And to say there are a few details that need his attention is like saying there are a few Little League baseball games taking place on a spring Saturday around the Main Line.

Bradshaw and his staff have a lot to worry about—everything from what channels are available on hotel TVs to where participating teams will practice before games. A 400-page manual is the starting point. Everything else will be crisis management. Oh, and you’d better do things according to the NCAA’s wishes, or the tournament won’t be coming back. “They say, ‘If you don’t want to do it, we’ll give it to Denver,’” says Bradshaw.

OK, so maybe the NCAA isn’t quite that brusque, but it’s no doubt interested in working with partners willing to do things its way. “There is a: ‘This is the way we do it, and you’re going to do it that way,’” says Temple senior associate athletic director Joe Giunta. “But they don’t say it in a nasty way.”

This is Temple’s first time as host school of the games since 1992, when Christian Laettner hit one of the most famous shots in college basketball history to lead Duke University over the University of Kentucky in the regional final at the Spectrum. Bradshaw, meanwhile, had experience staging a weekend of NCAA hoops when he was athletic director at DePaul University.

Temple administrators have provided tourney assistance in the past, but this is the university’s maiden voyage in the driver’s seat. And there’s a lot of new ground to cover. “The challenge is unlike any other sporting event,” Bradshaw admits.

Teams arrive in Philadelphia as early as Tuesday, and winners of the Friday games will play again on Sunday—and there are plenty of benefits. The premier college sports tournament offers great brand awareness for Temple. It can also generate more than $200,000 for the host school. “It’s not just the [eight] teams that are coming in—it’s all their fans and the media,” Bradshaw says. “It’s a crazed situation.”

For Temple, the madness began with its bid to host the tournament. Among other things, it included a complete profile of the city’s hotel, practice-facility, restaurant, transportation and logistical capabilities. The Philadelphia Sports Congress was heavily involved in the effort, but most of the work fell on Bradshaw and his staff, who had to inspect hotels and other venues. “There are certain requirements we have to fulfill,” he says.

Despite the attention to detail and all of the various specifications that are laid out by the NCAA, there remains one big wild card Temple can’t address until the Sunday before the tournament begins: the identities of the eight schools that will be coming to town. Since the NCAA doesn’t announce the field of participants to the host cities before the brackets are revealed on TV to the rest of the country, Bradshaw’s team must be ready to move quickly when it finds out who will be playing in Philadelphia.

The people on the front line are the one or two hosts assigned to each team. If Wyoming is announced as a participant in Philadelphia, the hosts reach out to help coordinate travel, lodging, practice schedules and any other needs. Consider them the concierges who attempt to make sure every detail is handled correctly. It is vital that teams aren’t inconvenienced, so as not to be at any competitive disadvantage on the court.

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