Jay and Carolyn Marsh say goodbye to Mason after many years of service

Carolyn and Jay Marsh retired from Mason on June 30 after a combined 90 years of service. Photo by Shelby Burgess/Strategic Communications

Jay and Carolyn Marsh are bidding adieu to George Mason University after a combined 90 years of service. But the larger-than-life roles they played in the university’s Athletics Department are here to stay.

The couple, which officially retired as university employees on June 30—Jay as senior associate athletic director for events and facilities, and Carolyn as executive assistant for men’s basketball — have showcased their deep affinity for Mason with a $50,000 gift to the Mason men’s and women’s basketball programs as part of the locker room renovations. The gift was also used to fund the creation of the men’s basketball film room, known as the Carolyn Marsh Film Room.

“We had already committed to an endowed scholarship here at the university for athletics—basketball,” Jay said. “We decided to take another $25,000 and donate toward the locker rooms because we knew we could get this done.”

Jay said putting Carolyn’s name on the film room couldn’t be more appropriate, even if he did have to initially sell her somewhat on the idea.

“I just felt with the contributions Carolyn has made to the basketball program, it would be special,” he said. “Everybody would go in there every day and see it.”

The couple has been among the most devoted supporters of Mason athletics since they first began working for the university. And they’ve influenced scores of lives along the way.

The couple first met at a country dance while Jay was finishing a two-year stint in the Army, and they married in 1967. In December 1975, Carolyn started at Mason as a sports information assistant, and eventually became the trusted executive assistant to all eight Patriot men’s basketball coaches since.

She said she still receives calls and cards from the players.

Carolyn and Jay Marsh in the men’s basketball film room named for her. Photo by Shelby Burgess/Strategic Communication

“The players,” she said when asked what gave her the most satisfaction from the job. “I just feel like I’m a mom.”

Jay, who graduated from Mason in 1973 after completing his military service, played two seasons of basketball for former coach John Linn while finishing his degree work.

He followed Carolyn back to Mason in May 1976, when he began to serve as business manager while also overseeing the equipment room and facilities. His duties in the coming years also included working as a fundraiser for the Patriot Club.

Jay wore whatever hat was necessary to make sure events were successful and that Patriot student-athletes enjoyed the experience.

Mason hosted the first Colonial Athletic Association basketball tournament in 1986, and things ran so smoothly the conference asked Jay to run the tournament, regardless of future locations. He did so until Mason left the conference in 2013.

During Mason’s improbable run to the 2006 Final Four, Marsh was responsible for organizing the team’s travel arrangements to Indianapolis. He said he fondly remembers the team bus pulling onto campus after Mason’s victory in Washington, D.C., over top-seeded UConn to reach the Final Four, and seeing as many as 8,000 raucous fans in the arena awaiting their return.

“To walk in there and see all those kids and all that excitement was unbelievable,” he said.

Jay said he also holds a special place in his heart for the women’s soccer Final Four Mason hosted in 1985. The Patriots stunned three-time reigning national champion North Carolina in the championship game, marking the only time over a 13-year stretch that the Tar Heels did not win the NCAA Championship.

Next up for the Marshes is spending catching up with friends and family. But they said their love for Mason remains strong, and they will continue to be regulars at many campus events, including at EagleBank Arena this coming basketball season in the seats Carolyn has had for years.

“We never thought it would last this long,” Jay said, “but there are a lot of great people at George Mason University.”