Women Serving On NCAA Selection Committee

Editor/Collegiate Baseball

TUCSON, Ariz. — The sport of college baseball has gone through some refreshing changes the last few years.

Not many people realize it, but three women have been serving on the NCAA Division I Baseball Committee since 2018.

Oregon State Deputy Athletics Director Marianne Vydra served on the committee in 2018 and 2019. She recently retired after 28 years in the OSU athletics’ department.

Then Nevada Las Vegas Athletics Director Desiree Reed-Francois began serving on the 2020 committee and will continue through 2024.

University of Washington Director of Athletics Jennifer Cohen begins a 2-year stint in 2021.

All three are incredible administrators who only make the NCAA Division I championship stronger.

According to Jeff Williams of the NCAA, Dee Todd (athletics director at North Carolina A&T) was the first women to serve on the NCAA Division I Baseball Committee in 2006.

“I was the second woman ever to serve on the NCAA Div. I Baseball Committee,” said Vydra.

With the exception of these four women, the past 74 years has only included male Division I baseball coaches, conference administrators or university administrators on the NCAA Div. I Baseball Committee.

This body determines the teams that make the NCAA Div. I Championship and also make all the administrative decisions before and during the tournament, including playing through nasty weather, NCAA rules among other items.

Vydra was asked if she faced any coaches who were anti-women during her stint on the committee.

“I really enjoyed my time on the committee, and it was 99 percent positive. I never received any negative feedback from any coaches at all.

“It was interesting to see the reactions of people when you told them you were on the NCAA Div. I Baseball Committee because women rarely serve on it. I tell you one thing. Everyone on this committee really knows the game of baseball and especially college baseball.

“They really enjoy being a part of the committee.”

Vydra, who has served on numerous NCAA sports committees over the years, including soccer, baseball, softball and gymnastics, said she had a blast on the Division I Baseball Committee.

“Everyone involved was so respectful of me. Of all the committees I served on, the most fun was being on the softball committee and second was the baseball committee.

“There are so many things to deal with outdoor sports like softball and baseball with weather situations that come up.”

She appreciates how different sport committees within the NCAA have evolved over the years.

“I am thrilled women have been part of the administrative part of the NCAA Division I baseball championship.”

Vydra said years ago during NCAA sport committee deliberations on which teams should be in the playoffs, you would raise your hand when you voted for teams typically in the wee hours of the morning.

“That doesn’t happen anymore. Everyone on a committee sits by a computer and votes on a blind ballot. The process is so much smoother than it previously was.

“Picking the teams for the NCAA playoffs is all about the data you receive and those teams that deserve to be in. You can make extremely informed decisions based on all the data available.”

Vydra loves everything about the game of baseball and softball when it comes to strategy.

“Every pitch is important in the playoffs.

“It is fascinating to watch the chess game being played with coaches from game to game.

“I hope more women get involved in men’s sports committees like I have. The key is having knowledge about a sport.”

She got her opportunity to be on the NCAA Div. I Baseball Committee when an opening came up, and she put her resume in to the Pac-12 Conference office. The Pac-12 felt she was highly qualified to serve and forwarded her name on to an NCAA Committee that approved her since she had 14 years of NCAA committee experience with different sports.

“They really wanted someone who was a well-seasoned committee member who had served on other sports.

“Thankfully, I got the job.”

Vydra said any time a committee picks teams for the NCAA playoffs, schools on the outside that just missed being chosen will be upset along with their fan base.

“You have to be able to take criticism and be able to defend why you picked the teams you did in concert with other administrators on the committee. Sometimes you have to agree to disagree and keep moving on.

“My time on the NCAA Division I Baseball Committee was special. I thoroughly enjoyed being at the College World Series. It is a remarkable event and festival just like the Women’s Softball World Series because they both go on for days.”

To read more of this article, purchase the Feb. 26, 2021 edition of Collegiate Baseball or subscribe by CLICKING HERE.