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New statue in Indy honors ‘Father of the Final Four’

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — A major figure in Indianapolis sports history was honored with a statue on Friday morning.

Tom Jernstedt, also known to many as the “Father of the Final Four,” passed away in Sept. 2020. On Friday, a statue in his honor was unveiled in downtown Indianapolis.

Many people, from Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett to NCAA President Charlie Baker, attended the unveiling. That made it extremely special for Jernstedt’s son, Cole.

“Everyone here comes from different walks of life,” said Cole Jernstedt. “Everyone’s back for one big cause: Celebrating my dad. He had a great impact on these people’s lives.”

Tom Jernstedt played a big role in relocating the NCAA’s headquarters to Indianapolis.

He was an NCAA executive from 1972-2010.

“When you’re here today to unveil a statue for someone who spent 38 years at the NCAA, it makes my 50 days seem a little small by comparison,” said Baker, who recently assumed his role as NCAA President. “It does speak to the fact that the people involved in this put their heart and soul into it. It was a commitment that went way beyond the job.”

The new statue sits on the corner of Georgia and Illinois Streets, near Harry and Izzy’s, a “special location” for Jernstedt according to Dan Gavitt, NCAA Senior Vice President of Basketball.

“He loved Harry and Izzy’s,” said Gavitt. “He spent so many nights with friends, myself included.”