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Cardinal Stritch coach has second job building college tourney field

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    Cardinal Stritch basketball coach Jamie Kachmarik has a second job that keeps him busy, serving as one of the organizers of the CollegeInsider.com postseason basketball tournament.

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    Jamie Kachmarik is Cardinal Stritch’s boys basketball coach, assistant athletic director, and is in charge of the CollegeInsider.com men’s postseason tournament.

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Jamie Kachmarik pulled double duty this weekend.

13ce9627-f2ff-4f1b-9881-ea7614dfa2ce

Cardinal Stritch basketball coach Jamie Kachmarik has a second job that keeps him busy, serving as one of the organizers of the CollegeInsider.com postseason basketball tournament.

THE BLADE
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The Cardinal Stritch coach fell just short of a district championship Saturday, then oversaw the selection of the 32-team CollegeInsider.com Tournament on Sunday. Now in his fourth year as executive chairman of the postseason college basketball event, Kachmarik, when asked by a reporter to explain his duties, laughed and responded, “Basically run the whole thing.”

“My nights are very busy,” he added.

The CIT, celebrating its 10th anniversary this year, is one of four postseason college hoops tournaments, along with the NCAA tournament, the National Invitation Tournament, and the College Basketball Invitational. The single-elimination event fields teams from outside the Power Five conferences with winning records overall and in their league.

“We hang our hat on kind of being a mid-major championship,” said Kachmarik, a graduate of Rossford High School and Bowling Green State University, who also serves as assistant athletic director at Stritch. “We look to help programs who are down and rebuilding, and we’ve had schools that have never been in the postseason before and we provide them an opportunity. We want kids to have that chance to play in the postseason.”

The 42-year-old Kachmarik just finished his fourth season at Stritch, where he’s led the Cardinals to a 76-24 record. They’ve broken the school record for wins in a season three times, including during this season’s 23-win campaign, and advanced to the Sweet 16 twice.

Kachmarik spent 16 years as a coach in Division I college basketball, with stints at Ohio State, William & Mary, Coastal Carolina, Appalachian State, and UNC-Wilmington. During his time in Columbus, Ohio State advanced to the 1999 Final Four.

Relationships with Joe Dwyer and Angela Lento, the CIT’s executive director and chief financial officer, respectively, led Kachmarik to his current position with the tournament.

“It keeps me involved in the college game,” he said. “I get to talk to colleagues who I’ve known for years. It keeps your contacts going.”

The CIT selection committee consists of 12 Division I athletic directors and two conference commissioners. Starting in February, it compiles a list of the top 32 mid-majors worthy of inviting and presents it to Kachmarik each Monday. The process continues until Selection Sunday.

Bids actually are offered and accepted in February, with clauses that void the contract if a team qualifies for the NCAA tournament or NIT. When it’s not basketball season, Kachmarik still is busy calling sponsors, athletic directors, and coaches to build relationships and better the tournament.

Bowling Green athletic director Bob Moosbrugger noticed an email from Kachmarik in his inbox asking to serve on the CIT selection committee. Moosbrugger was unaware of Kachmarik’s local ties or that he attended BGSU until he Googled him.

“He certainly works a lot,” said Moosbrugger, who’s serving in his first year on the selection committee. “I wasn’t 100 percent sure going into it what to expect. I’ve been surprised how difficult it is for me. Obviously, I’m busy with my own job. I know the difficulty I’m having. I can only imagine how busy he is. He has to have a pulse on teams throughout the country.”

In 2015, just minutes before Stritch's district semifinal at Lakota, Kachmarik took a call underneath the bleachers from an unfamiliar Kentucky phone number. It was the athletic director from Murray State.

During the same spring, former Stritch star Austin Adams, who now plays for Tiffin University, did a senior project on the CIT. He helped send merchandise to schools and shadowed Kachmarik. Throughout the season, Stritch players inquire about which teams might be in the tournament.

The 2016 championship game took place at Columbia University, which hosted UC-Irvine. Columbia won its first postseason championship, setting off a confetti-induced celebration in the packed gymnasium with a court-storming serving as the exclamation point.

“[Players and coaches] enjoy it a lot,” Kachmarik said. “It’s the postseason. It has a different feel to it. It means something. You’re playing for a championship. If it wasn't a good thing, it wouldn't be going for 10 years.”

Contact Kyle Rowland at: krowland@theblade.com, 419-724-6110, or on Twitter @KyleRowland.

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