Basketball, especially college basketball, has always been a big part of Rhonda Bennett’s life.
Bennett, the senior women’s administrator at the University of Nevada and associate athletic director, has worked in college athletics since graduating from Northwestern. Before coming to Nevada in 2005, she worked at University of Minnesota, Kansas State and Arizona State. She was in athletic communications at Nevada for five years before moving into sports administration in 2010.
For the past three years, she has served on the selection committee for the women’s NCAA Tournament, and this year she’s the selection chair.
“One of my earliest memories was my dad bringing me to Blazers games on tickets that he got through his work,” said Bennett, who was the primary men’s basketball contact during the Mark Fox era at Nevada. “I’ve been around basketball my whole career. I worked with women’s basketball when I was at Arizona State. We hosted a men’s regional and women’s regionals.
“From a working perspective, one of my favorite sports is college basketball. It’s exciting and fun. It’s a small squad so you get to know the teams (players) on a very personal level.”
Bennett seemed a natural for the selection committee given her wealth of experience with the sport. She said the committee is comprised of 10 people from five different regions around the country. A term is five years, so she will be on the committee for the 2018-19 season, but she doesn’t know whether she will head the committee again.
“I’m excited and honored (to be the chair),” she said last week. “My schedule has been a little crazy. We are headed into our first in-person meeting this week. We’ve had some conference calls. We are in the thick of it since conference play has started.
“A couple of years ago, a vacancy opened up that could be filled by somebody in the West. The conference has an executive committee, so I applied through the conference and they sent it to the NCAA. They pick members based on backgrounds and kinds of things you’ve done.”
Bennett estimates being the chair requires a couple of extra hours a week unless any issues come up. That doesn’t include, however, the amount of time she takes to watch games from all over the country to get ready for meetings.
“I’ve got a very expensive cable package,” Bennett said. “We are expected to have the highest cable package. We do a get a stipend, too. All conferences give us access to watch games online. There is a video editing software called synergy, and we watch a lot of games through that.”
Organization is key. She has to figure out who to watch, and she’s constantly scouring results to see if there’s a team that starts to get hot and needs to be viewed.
“I don’t have to watch every UConn or Notre Dame game for instance because I know what they are like,” she said. “I look at teams playing against them. I keep track of what personnel is available. Do teams have any injuries.”
She obviously sees a lot of Mountain West games because of her job at Nevada, and she’s a fixture at Wolf Pack women’s games. And, Nevada always plays a steady diet of West Coast Conference and Big West teams in the nonconference.