By: Adam Pasternak
Starting on Thursday is the annual NCAA March Madness basketball tournament. Basketball fans have been waiting all year for this Thursday, and it doesn’t look like it will disappoint. Covering and analyzing March Madness on behalf of SportsNak is our newest guest contributor, Adam Sussman!
Sussman has spent the last two years managing the American University Eagles mens basketball team while also attending the university as a student, in Washington, D.C. Below is the transcription of my recent interview with Sussman about his experiences of managing a college basketball team, as well as the benefits of being a manager:
Me: Tell me about yourself. How did you hear about the job/What made you apply for the job?
Sussman: I was at a phone-a-thon information session, which is basically a job for the students to call alumni for donations. I don’t why I was at this information session job, it seems liked an easy way to make a few bucks, so I guess I wanted to see what it was all about. I introduced myself to the session leader afterwards and he welcomed me to American and asked me how I’m liking it so far and where else I am looking to get involved in on campus. It was only the second week of school and I didn’t know very much, but I mentioned how I really liked basketball and I’m planning to head out to a lot of AU games. He mentioned that his roommate was the head manager of the team, and that he would gladly put me in touch if I wanted to find more information about what it was like to be an NCAA D1 manager. I was very appreciative and excited by this opportunity and I ended up following up with David Flood who was the head manager during the 2014-15 season. David had a casual interview with me and I also had a more formal interview with one of the assistant coaches. I’m not quite sure the exact number of other candidates, but I knew I beat out a handful of people for the position.
I was fortunate to be selected as the only freshman that you’re there’s usually one freshman sometimes to selected every year to replace the person who graduates. Last season, I was the fourth ranking manager so I did not travel very much and my role was definitely not as visible as the older managers. However, this year I took on a much more senior role.
Me: What were the criteria for the job?
Sussman: The criteria of the job was a little flexible. Basically, a large component is finding someone that was willing to put in the time commitment of traveling to every single game and accommodating school work at the same time. Basketball is about a 30 hour per week commitment from when practices start in early October until the season ends in the middle of March.
Me: Was it a long and gruesome process, or just a simple interview and “we’ll let you know” type thing?
Sussman: Not gruesome. Really only about 10 days from the time I first got in contact with David to when I knew I was going to be the freshman manager candidate.
Me: Do you think this job can lead to a profession in the business side of sports for you?
Sussman: The manager job I don’t think can directly transfer to a managerial equivalent job post graduation like an NBA manager, if that even exists. However, I feel that I will be a very strong job candidate out of university as a result of this manger job. Particularly because I was able to succeed in school, while also holding down a busy job.
Me: Have you met any interesting people through your experience as a manager in the NCAA?
Sussman: David Aldridge, the sports reporter for TNT, is an American University alumni. He brings his kids to almost every home game. He’s a really cool and humble guy to get to know. For me, I love travelling in the first half of the season where we play different teams each season. This year my favourite road trip was to Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU). I was really jealous of there state of the art facilities, and highly energetic game atmosphere.
Me: Any other stories, or maybe insights, you have to add?
Sussman: This a really cool video on ESPN with the link below that shows managers from larger name universities. This video provides great insight into the life of a manager: http://espn.go.com/video/clip?id=14927550
And so as you can see, Sussman is the perfect choice to be covering March Madness, as he has been around it all season long! He is lucky enough to witness these teams play and to actually have a part in making it happen. His knowledge is off the charts, and we are so fortunate to have him working with us this year! Look for Sussman’s March Madness predictions/primer article coming out in the next few days, and good luck to all those filling out brackets this week. Here’s to the madness!
Don’t forget to check back later this week for Adam Sussman’s March Madness Primer article! And don’t forget to follow SportsNak on Facebook and Twitter!