Everyday Hero: Jay Marsh

Posted: July 15, 2004 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

By Jeremy Lasich

Editor’s note: This Daily Gazette feature profiles key people at Mason who “make it happen.”

Name: Jay Marsh

Position at Mason: Associate athletic director, events, Intercollegiate Athletics

How Long at Mason: 34 years (including 3 as a student from 1970 to 1973)

His First Job at Mason: Assistant basketball coach

What He Does: Along with one full-time staff member and two part-timers, Marsh prepares the venues for all sporting events, including setting up public address systems, raising flags if a national anthem will be sung, hiring announcers, making sure scoreboards and clocks work, and organizing concession stands. “I also help develop all the team schedules to make sure there is not a conflict between major events. We need to make sure the facility is available, and to ensure better attendance for both, we don’t want to have two big games or tournaments in different sports on the same night.”

His Favorite Part of the Job: “It’s probably the people—the interaction with the staff, the general public, and especially the student-athletes.”

Biggest Changes He’s Seen in His Years at George Mason: “The facilities, especially the Field House and the Patriot Center. When I was a student here, the P.E. Building was just being completed. When I played basketball here, we were playing in high school gyms throughout Fairfax County. The improved buildings allowed us to add more sports and grow as a university.”

Jay Marsh with Patriots sign
Photos by Evan Cantwell

Most Memorable Experience at Mason: “The basketball team has had a lot of great victories, but the moment I always come back to was in 1985 when we hosted the Final Four in women’s soccer and we won the national championship on our home field. ESPN was here when they were just getting started as a network, and we were trying to adapt our stadium for TV. It was a big deal, and I was basically in charge of setting up the event as tournament director working with the NCAA. It was a lot of fun.”

On George Mason Possibly Starting an NCAA Division I Football Program in the Future: “The university will make that decision when the time comes, but I’m prepared to do my part in it. I grew up with football in Southern California, and I’m a big football fan, but it will present a lot of challenges to the institution and to the department if and when it comes.”

On Personal Goals: “I don’t have personal goals necessarily, I just have goals that our coaches and our teams are successful every year. Hopefully, the kids take advantage of George Mason and get a good education and have a fun experience here. Those are the things that I enjoy most.”

On Student Behavior at Sporting Events: “Overall, I don’t think we have a problem, but we have a few incidences here and there where somebody makes a poor decision. The kids are there to have a good time, and I feel I have a good rapport with the students. I can talk to them, and they know what I’ll tolerate and what the university will tolerate. I don’t like to kick students out—in all the years that I’ve done basketball, there have only been one or two cases where I’ve had to evict somebody from the building. Referees have occasionally had me throw out a student, too. They have full control, and once the game starts, if they want somebody out of there, you have to do it.”

On His Wife, Carolyn, Working at George Mason (secretary, Men’s Basketball): “She started here in 1976 in the Sports Information Department part-time and became full-time when Joe Harrington was hired as the basketball coach in 1980. She loves what she does, and she loves the men’s basketball program. It’s been a unique experience for us.”

On Commuting from Bumpass, Va., Every Day: “It’s right near Lake Anna, so it’s 75 miles each way. Carolyn and I commute together, so it makes for some long days when we have evening events on campus. We’ve been doing it for 10 years. We handle it pretty well, even though it can take more than two hours, depending on traffic. It’s a challenge, but we like it.”

On Having a Burger Named after Him at Brion’s Grille: “Brion’s wife played volleyball here at George Mason for 4 years, and she worked for me for 4 years. I knew Brion because he played basketball here when I was coaching. When they started the restaurant, I was very surprised when they said they were going to have the Jay Marsh Burger. They chose the toppings, and the rest is history. It’s a unique experience, to say the least. Sometimes I feel obligated to order it, especially on half-price burger night.”

What People Say about Him:

“Jay’s sense of loyalty to George Mason is a consistent adherence to, and support of, a positive experience for our student-athletes. He also has a deep sensitivity to the lives of our student-athletes and cares about them even after their undergraduate days are complete. I’ve had the good fortune to have known Jay for more than 25 years, both when I was an administrator at another institution and now when he is a valued member of our Intercollegiate Athletics staff. You can always depend on Jay to have consummate skill when it comes to game and event management.”

—Tom O’Connor, assistant vice president and athletic director

“Jay’s dedication to the Intercollegiate Athletics Department is evident in the work ethic he displays every day. He gives 100 percent to everything he does and is very meticulous in his planning. He is also a compassionate person who would do anything to help anyone in need. I am fortunate to have him as a mentor and friend.”

—Tracy Kirk, assistant athletic director, event administration, Intercollegiate Athletics

“Jay Marsh bleeds Patriot green and gold. His passion for George Mason University is unmatched by any person I have met on our campus. Everything Jay does is centered on putting the university in the best light, and he always has George Mason’s best interest in the middle of his decisions. The things I revere about Jay are his passion and his organization, but mostly I value his friendship.”

—Andy Ruge, associate athletic director, marketing and external affairs, Intercollegiate Athletics

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