Thomas Walter Jernstedt
1944 - 2020
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Thomas Walter Jernstedt
Nov. 24, 1944 - Sept. 5, 2020
Thomas Walter Jernstedt, 75, passed away Sept. 5, 2020, in Jupiter, Fla. He was born in McMinnville, Ore., Nov. 24, 1944, the son of Don and Catherine Jernstedt. Raised in Carlton, Ore., it has often been said he never forgot his small-town roots.
He was an all-state athlete in football, basketball and baseball while at Yamhill-Carlton High School. Always the diplomat, he was elected student body president and also governor of Oregon's Boys State. It was the football scholarship from the University of Oregon that changed his career forever. He graduated in 1967 (while serving as senior class president) with a Bachelor of Science degree in Political Science and a Master's in Education in 1973. After working in the UO Athletics Department as an events manager for three years, he accepted a position with the NCAA as director of events in 1972.
Through the course of 38 years at the NCAA, he was a consummate leader and passionate administrator whose genuine connection with people impacted countless lives and careers. Known to make time for everyone, he's been described as thoughtful, respectful, likable, honest and a silent power who "carried a big stick, but never used it." He was a tireless advocate for men and women student-athletes across all sports during his career.
Often referred to as the "Father of the Final Four," he is credited with developing the college basketball championship from a fairly modest tournament to "March Madness" with a multi-billion dollar television contract and fans around the world.
Tom also held multiple governance positions with USA Basketball starting in 1975, culminating as its President (2001-2004). He served honorably on boards of directors and committees including 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.
Though highly regarded for his basketball reputation, Tom was one of the original members of the College Football Playoff Selection Committee for four years (2014-2017). He also consulted with a number of athletic associations, conferences, and institutions.
He never liked attention or praise, but his many accomplishments were recognized over the years. Significantly, he was inducted into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame in 2017. He also received the John Bunn Award for his outstanding lifetime dedication to basketball (2001). The University of Oregon honored him with the Distinguished Alumnus Award (2001). In 2007, he received the Distinguished Service Award from the United States Sports Academy and the Bill McGowan Leadership Award from the Indiana Convention and Visitors Association. USA Basketball awarded him the Edward S. Steitz Award for his contributions and service to national and international basketball (2009). The National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame enshrined Tom as a contributor to the game (2010). He received the State of Indiana's highest civilian honor, the Sagamore of Wabash (2017). To cap it all off, he will be inducted posthumously into the State of Oregon's Sports Hall of Fame this year.
While his professional achievements and awards were impressive, some of his greatest joys were in his personal life. He was a loving husband, father, grandfather ("Pop"), brother, uncle, cousin and true friend. Tom loved his golf rivalries, and participating in and watching all sports—usually with three TV sets at once. He'd find Oregon Duck football and basketball broadcasts no matter where he was traveling in the world. He cherished any visit to the state of Oregon ("God's Country," he called it), and enjoyed Oregon Pinot Noir—especially those from his hometown.
Tom was preceded in death by his parents, Don and Catherine Jernstedt. He is survived by his wife, Kristine Kellam Jernstedt and son, Cole, Jupiter, Fla.; Derek Jernstedt and wife, Jennifer, Danville, Calif.; and daughter, Jaci Jernstedt, also of Danville; brother, Rich Jernstedt and wife, Jeani, Chicago; sister, Missy Abrahamson and husband, Rick Abrahamson, West Linn, Ore.; sister, Susie Baty and husband, Dick Baty, Lake Oswego, Ore.; parents-in-law, Barb and Ron Kellam, Lancaster, Pa.; brother-in-law, Scott Kellam and wife, Kathy, Pittsboro, N.C.; brother-in-law, Michael Kellam, Lancaster, Pa.; his grandchildren, Jake Jernstedt and Avery Jernstedt, Danville, Calif.
Based on his long-term commitment to the University of Oregon and student-athletes, The Tom Jernstedt Student-Athlete Scholarship has been established. Memorial contributions may be made in Tom's honor to: Duck Athletic Fund; 2727 Leo Harris Parkway, Eugene, OR 97401. Reference "Tom Jernstedt Scholarship" in the check memo. Contributions may also be made online at:
Memorial service plans are pending.
Please sign the online guest book at

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Published in The Oregonian from Sep. 11 to Sep. 13, 2020.
Memories & Condolences
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9 entries
September 19, 2020
Going back to college days and Theta Chi and Tri-Delt escapades, you are one of the best and kindest people I've ever known. I'm privileged to call
you a friend. You'll be truly missed but forever remembered. My sympathy to all your family, and may you rest in peace.
Jill Carter
September 17, 2020
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Patty Brooks
September 16, 2020
A life well lived and with an awesome legacy of children and grandchildren. May we all strive to create this kind of contribution to our communities and families.
William Clements
September 15, 2020
Having met Tom decades ago through Maureen’s sister, Colleen Donnelly, and her husband, Bob Donnelly, we enjoyed his visits to Eugene and followed Tom through Oregon Athletic events and of course the annual March Madness. We only discovered Tom’s ties to Carlton after seeing the name Jernstedt on several bricks in the city park during Carlton Fun Days 2017. Tom was always friendly and humble, a true gentleman through and through. We know he is safe in our Lord’s home and imagine he is already arranging brackets for the first annual Heavenly March Happiness (not Madness) tournament with the angels, archangels and saints!
God bless Tom and our sincere condolences to the family. We’ve lost a great one but will reunite again.
With peace,
Tom and Maureen Fullmer
Tom Fullmer
September 15, 2020
My wife, Terri, and I want to offer our deepest sympathies to Kristine and the entire family. We had the great good fortune to get to know Tom and work closely with him and his staff at the NCAA for almost 30 years as Omaha and the NCAA put on the “Greatest Dhow in Dirt”/College World Series and carried it to levels never seen before. Tom was smart, honest and a man of his word in a quiet/determined way! We got to know him well starting in 1990 when Omaha negotiated its first 5 year contract to host the CWS and Tom also played a prominent role in the successful negotiations to consummate the current 25 year contract. Tom’s word was his bond and he made you feel like you were part of his team , all in an effort to develop solid personal and business relationships to enhance the experience for student athletes and fans all while ending up with “Win-Win” solutions for the NCAA and Local Organizing Committees/cities!

We also got to know Him personally and spend time with him and Kristine. They both made us feel comfortable and “part of the NCAA family”!

Tom will be missed but not forgotten and we are all better people for having worked with him professionally and getting to know him personally.

Our thoughts and prayers are with the Family.

Terri and Jack Diesing,Jr
College World Series of Omaha, inc.
Jack Diesing , Jr
September 13, 2020
TJ and I were 50% of a car pool from Johnson Co. to downtown KC while the NCAA still had its offices in the city. We remained good friends throughout his time in this area but lost touch when he relocated. I knew him as a fine man and a good friend. He also was a relentless competitor. The executive staff at the NCAA used to have a self-admistetrf annual tennis round robin tournament. TJ was not big on slams and power offense, but he returned everything (I mean everything ) hit at him. Inevitably the opponent would commit an unforced error mostly from frustration. Point Jernstedt. RIP.
Gene “Jake” Jacobs
September 12, 2020
Tom was a great friend to me when I went to work with the NCAA Foundation when the Foundation was first founded. With the two of us being the only staff from Oregon, we became good friends. He was a great supporter of women in the world of sports because it was the men who ran most things. We stayed in touch over the years and he is missed greatly!
Betty Norrie
September 12, 2020
Mr. Tom Jernstedt, it was a pleasure knowing you. A true gentleman, you always had time for everyone. God bless you sir, rest in peace. Go Ducks!
Jim Smith
September 12, 2020
May your hearts soon be filled with wonderful memories of joyful times together as you celebrate a life well lived.
Gary and kathy webb
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