ST. LOUIS -- Fashion cop. Pressure checker. Tour director. Rim protector.
Wichitan Matt Baty performs all those jobs and more as floor manager for the St. Louis portion of the tournament. He is working as a volunteer at that job for his fourth NCAA Tournament and will serve as assistant floor manager for the Final Four in Arlington, Texas.
Early Thursday morning, he pumped up basketballs in an equipment room filled with balls, coolers and water bottles. The NCAA ships the balls to sites filled, but they lose some air in transit. Baty made sure all are inflated to the mandatory 7 to 9 psi.
He oversees the locker rooms, officials and scorer’s table. He checks the rims to make sure they are 10 feet off the floor (he found one two inches high before a previous tournament). If there is a problem with the clocks, he takes on the issue. Teams benches are limited to 17 chairs and 22 people. Players who didn’t make the NCAA roster aren’t allowed to come out of the stands for huddles. He is responsible for getting food and drink to the locker rooms.
“Pretty much, from the time officials and players arrive, they are under my jurisdiction,” he said.
One of his biggest jobs is checking clothes to make sure they meet NCAA rules on logos and size. The NCAA wants everybody looking uniform and professional. All players must wear the same practice gear. No headphones allowed.
“They can’t have two logos on their socks,” he said. “When they’re out on the court and the cameras are panning through, you don’t want a bunch of guys in different logos. More than anything, it’s making sure the student-athletes have a great time.”
Baty, who is a vice president at Equity Bank, started working tournaments when he interned at the Big 12 Conference after playing baseball at Kansas. He worked in the athletic departments at Kansas and Wichita State before entering private business. When he left WSU, the Missouri Valley Conference called to ask if he would help with last season’s NCAAs in Kansas City.
“This is my way of staying in touch with the sport industry and giving my time back,” he said. “Most of my contacts in athletics have been through this.”