Tom Jernstedt Named Recipient of Indiana Sports Corp’s 2021 Pathfinder Award

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INDIANAPOLIS – Indiana Sports Corp will present the 2021 National Pathfinder Award posthumously to Tom Jernstedt, often referred to as the “Father of the Final Four.” Malcolm Moran will be honored alongside Jernstedt as the Inspiring Sports Storyteller recipient.

The Pathfinder Award, presented annually since 1988 by Indiana Sports Corp, honors individuals who have demonstrated a commitment to improving the lives of those in the community through sport. These champions will be recognized at Bankers Life Fieldhouse on April 1. The event will be streamed live online for viewers with registration open to the public. Availability to attend in-person will be limited to invite only.

Jernstedt joined the NCAA in 1972 and throughout his career worked behind the scenes to transform the Division I Men’s Basketball Championship to the premier event we know and love today. He served as executive vice president and oversaw the day-to-day operations of March Madness, the expansion of participating teams from 25 to 68 and the selection of larger sites, including domed stadiums, for the Final Four games. Beyond his tournament work, Jernstedt was a passionate leader and administrator whose connection with many impacted countless lives and careers. Many people described him as the type of person to make time for everyone, thoughtful, respectful, likable, and honest.

Throughout his 38-year career, Jernstedt served on many boards of directors and committees that include the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame; United States Olympic Committee; United States-International University Sports Federation; Indianapolis Convention and Visitors Association; Federation of International Basketball Association; and the University of Oregon Alumni Association as well as serving as the President of USA Basketball from 2001-2004. The Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame awarded Jernstedt the John Bunn award in 2001 which is the highest honor given by the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame recognizing an individual who has contributed significantly to the sport of basketball. He went on to receive the Distinguished Service Award from the United Sports Academy and the Bill McGowan Leadership Award from the Indiana Convention and Visitors Association in 2007. USA Basketball then awarded him the Edward S. Steitz award in 2009 which recognizes an individual for his or her valuable contributions to international basketball. Jernstedt was eventually inducted into the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame in 2010 and then inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2019, and finally inducted into the State of Oregon’s Sports Hall of Fame in 2020.

“Tom exemplified all of the qualities we look for in a Pathfinder Award winner,” said Rick Fuson, President and COO of Pacers Sports and Entertainment. “Part of Indiana Sports Corp’s mission is to positively impact the youth in our community and to recognize others that have a similar impact. Tom’s impact in the world of collegiate sports is exemplary and goes well beyond his work at the NCAA. He encompassed all that it means to be a servant leader and a community advocate.”

Moran has been a Professor of Practice at IUPUI, where he directs the Sports Capital Journalism Program in the Department of Journalism and Public Relations, since 2013. From 2006 through 2012 Moran was the Knight Chair in Sports Journalism and Society at Penn State University and was inaugural director of the John Curley Center for Sports Journalism, the first center for sports journalism in the nation. He has covered more than 30 post-season college football games with national championship stake and has covered 37 NCAA Final Fours, 11 Super Bowls, 16 World Series and four Olympic Games. Moran has also directed IUPUI students in their coverage of the Bowl Championship Series, College Football Playoff, NCAA Final Four, World Baseball Classic, NFL Scouting Combine, Indianapolis 500, and the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.

Prior to his tenure at IUPUI, Moran worked at The New York Times for 19 years and also worked at USA TODAY, Newsday, and the Chicago Tribune. His work appeared in the anthology “Best Sports Stories” and has been recognized by the United States Basketball Writers Association and the Football Writers of America. He has been executive director of the USBWA since 2019. In 2007, he was awarded the Curt Gowdy Print Media Award for outstanding lifetime coverage of basketball by the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.

“When imagining future recipients of the Inspiring Sports Storyteller Award winner, Malcolm came top of mind as someone deserving of this honor,” said Ryan Vaughn, Indiana Sports Corp President. “Malcolm has been a longtime pioneer as a writer in the sports industry and a leader nationwide in the profession. We are proud to have him in our backyard at IUPUI and influencing the next generation of sports writers.”

This is the 34th year Indiana Sports Corp has bestowed the Pathfinder Award. Over the years, the Pathfinder Award has honored a tremendous list of recipients including Dr. Condoleezza Rice, Jeff and Karen Saturday, John Wooden, Larry Bird, Governor Mitch Daniels, Tony Dungy, Peyton Manning, Jack and Barbara Nicklaus, Bill Russell, Oscar Robertson, and Dick Vitale, among others.

If you or your company is interested in supporting and sponsoring the Pathfinder Award, please contact Mike Karnuta at


About Indiana Sports Corp

Founded in 1979 as the nation’s first sports commission, Indiana Sports Corp is a not-for-profit organization focused on bringing premier sporting events to Indiana to drive economic vitality, facilitate a vibrant community with civic pride and garner positive media attention. Because of this, Indiana Sports Corp is able to provide positive, sports-related opportunities for youth in the community. For more information, please visit

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