Nov. 6, 2006
HOUSTON - The Southland Conference and the Harris County-Houston Sports Authority announced recently that the 2007 O'Reilly Auto Parts Southland Conference Men's and Women's basketball tournaments will be held March 7-11, here at the M.O. Campbell Center in north Houston.
Sixteen teams, the top eight men's and women's regular season finishers, will convene at the Campbell Center, playing 14 games over five days. The men's and women's bracket winners will earn automatic qualification into the 2007 NCAA Tournaments. In 2006, Northwestern State won the Southland men's tournament and later defeated third-seeded Iowa in the NCAA Tournament's first round.
The 5,000-seat Campbell Center is owned and operated by Aldine Independent School District in north Houston and is conveniently located near Beltway 8, Interstate 45 and U.S. Highway 59, and is just minutes from Houston's Bush Intercontinental Airport.
"Today's announcement culminates about a two-year effort to bring our basketball tournaments back to a single location for the first time since 2001," Southland commissioner Tom Burnett said. "The Southland Board of Directors and Advisory Council endorsed the idea of returning to a single site, and emphasized a strong preference in a neutral facility."
From 2002-06, the Southland played its postseason tournament at the sites of the higher-seeded teams for each game. Prior to that, the tournament was played with a combination of various formats at campus and neutral sites.
"The Harris County-Houston Sports Authority is delighted that the Southland Conference has chosen Houston as the host site for this very exciting men's and women's basketball tournament and believes that this will be the beginning of a very long relationship," Janis Schmees, HCHSA Executive Director, said.
In 2007, the women's qualifiers will begin play with four quarterfinal games on Wednesday, March 7. The men's teams will start tournament action with four quarterfinal contests on Thursday, March 8, as the women's quarterfinal winners take the day off. The women's semifinals are set for Friday afternoon, March 9, while the men's semifinals will be played that evening.
The women's championship game is slated for Saturday, March 10, and will be televised live on Fox Sports Net Southwest, at 2 p.m. The men's final is set for Sunday, March 11, at 1 p.m., and will be televised live nationally on ESPN 2.
"The Southland Conference presidents are universally pleased with the new format and the Campbell Center location for the 2007 Basketball Tournament," Sam Houston State University president Dr. Jim Gaertner said. Gaertner also serves as chair of the Southland's Board of Directors, the presidential governing group. "Our conference has been increasingly competitive in both men's and women's basketball in recent years, and we are looking forward to a successful tournament in Houston," he added.
Tournament ticket booklets, good for all 14 games of the event, will be available through each participating institutions' athletic ticket office throughout the season, and will cost $60. Game-day session tickets, good for two games, are $15, and will be sold at the Campbell Center during the week of the tournament. Single-game championship tickets will cost $10 each. Tickets will be general admission, but institutional seating sections will be created behind and across from team benches.
Southland Conference students with valid institutional identification, as well as children 5 and under, will be admitted free to all games.
"The Houston area serves as the geographic center of the Southland Conference, and is a strong recruiting base for our institutions, both academically and athletically," Burnett added. "Southland schools have approximately 80,000 active alumni in the area, and over 18,000 students from metro Houston are currently enrolled at our institutions.
"We are very excited about our partnerships with the Harris County-Houston Sports Authority and the Aldine Independent School District, as well as the continued sponsorship support from O'Reilly Auto Parts" Burnett said. "We believe our teams and fans will enjoy the tournament experience, and we hope our visiting groups take full advantage of a fun week in Houston and make a significant economic impact in the area."
The Southland Conference, which is headquartered in the north Dallas suburb of Frisco, consists of 12 member institutions in Texas, Louisiana and Arkansas. Texas schools include Lamar University in Beaumont, Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, Stephen F. Austin State University in Nacogdoches, the University of Texas at Arlington, the University of Texas at San Antonio, Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi, and Texas State University in San Marcos.
Louisiana institutions include McNeese State University in Lake Charles, Nicholls State University in Thibodaux, Northwestern State University in Natchitoches, and Southeastern Louisiana University in Hammond. The University of Central Arkansas in Conway rounds out the membership, but is ineligible for the tournament through 2009-10 because its athletic program is transitioning into NCAA Division I and is also ineligible for NCAA Championships during that time.
In addition to the basketball games, the Southland Conference is planning community outreach programs during the tournament and will partner with the HCHSA and AISD in these efforts.
"We look forward to hosting the Southland Conference's men's and women's basketball tournaments this coming March," Aldine ISD Superintendent Nadine Kujawa said. "This will be the first time in the history of our school district that we have hosted a NCAA Division I conference basketball tournament and it will provide a wonderful opportunity for the Aldine and Houston communities to enjoy top-flight competition at both the men's and women's level. On behalf of our board of education and our employees, we want to welcome the Southland Conference to Aldine and we hope this is the beginning of a long-standing relationship between the two of us."
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