Penn State Fayette to host USCAA National Basketball Tournament in March 2009
“We are thrilled beyond words and extremely honored that the UCSAA has provided us the opportunity to host its national championships,” Penn State Fayette Athletic Director Vince Capozzi says. “It is an opportunity to not only put Fayette on the national stage, but we can showcase all of Fayette County on a national level.”
The bid award was announced by USCAA Commissioner Bill Casto at the organization’s headquarters in Newport News, Va. The USCAA is a national organization designed to level the playing field for schools with enrollments of less than 1,500 who wish to compete for a national championship, have national All-American honors and national Academic All-American honors.
The USCAA conducts basketball championships in three divisions: Men’s Division I, Men’s Division II and Women’s. The 2009 event at Penn State Fayette will mark the first time that all three division championships have been contested at the same time and location.
“The concept of having all three tournaments concurrently in the same area is an idea that has been in the works for some time,” Casto explains. “However, we haven’t been able to work it out logistically. After careful thought and due diligence, it was apparent that Penn State Fayette and the Pennsylvania State University Athletic Conference (PSUAC) had both the resources and the cooperation necessary to pull off an event of this magnitude.”
While Fayette will be the primary site for the tournament, Capozzi notes that the Western Division Schools of the PSUAC will serve as hosts as well. A total of 49 games will be played over the four days with the majority, including the championships, to be played at Fayette. Penn State Greater Allegheny in McKeesport will serve as the secondary game site.
As the host school, both the Penn State Fayette Men’s and Women’s basketball teams earn automatic berths.
“We’re very excited to have our teams play and we really are hoping that the community comes out to support our teams. How often does a school get to play for a national championship in its own back yard?” Capozzi says.
The tournament will be headquartered in Uniontown, with teams staying in local hotels. Capozzi noted that the location of area hotels is perfect because of their easy access to both the Fayette Campus and Greater Allegheny.
“Receiving this bid is the result of the work of a great many people,” Capozzi notes. Among them have been the athletic directors at the PSUAC’s western schools and John Fritz, PSUAC commissioner. “They really put a lot of time and energy into this so they need to get the credit they deserve,” Capozzi explains.
Another person that Capozzi cited as instrumental in Fayette and the PSUAC getting the bid was Fayette Chancellor Dr. Emanuel Osagie. “Dr. Osagie has been 100 percent behind this since we first started talking about making a proposal back in February. He’s given us the inspiration to dream big, and we did.”
The Division I tournament will consist of eight teams, while 10 will compete in Men’s Division II, and 12 will vie for the women’s title. PSUAC teams will compete in Men’s Division II and the Women’s divisions.
“That’s 30 teams playing 49 games in four days. If you like college basketball, you will be in heaven!” Capozzi says.
Tournament events begin on Tuesday, March 3, with a skills competition for each division featuring three-point shooting, foul shooting and dunking (men). The competitors will next travel to Pittsburgh where the tournament’s opening banquet will be on the Gateway Clipper.
Play begins March 4 with games at each site and continues each day through Saturday, when the national champions will be crowned. Tournament bids will be extended near the end of February, and the schedule and game times will be announced then. A link to the tournament Web site will be available from the Penn State Fayette Athletics Web site at www.fayette.psu.edu/Athletics.
For more information about the tournament, please call 724-430-4100 ext. 4514 or 4515.