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ASU plays host to March Madness

March 20, 2008

ASU is bringing a little madness to the Valley.

March Madness, that is.

The university is playing a key role as the host institution for the West region for the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament. Games for the West regional semifinals and finals, with four teams and three games, will take place at U.S. Airways Center in Phoenix March 27 and 29.

In addition to the West regional in Phoenix, the East regional will take place in Charlotte, N.C., and will be played host to by the University of North Carolina-Charlotte; the Midwest regional in Detroit will be played host to by the University of Detroit-Mercy; and the South regional in Houston will be played host to by the University of Houston and Rice University.

As host, ASU’s role is to put together the event, including marketing, ticket sales, logistics, media support and everything else under specific guidelines provided by the NCAA. Although the participating teams for the event are still to be determined (based on the early rounds of competition held March 20-23 at various locations), tickets for the venue have been sold out for months. Media interest is also high, with more than 700 credentials issued.

“We make sure every detail of the event is flawless,” says Mark Brand, ASU’s assistant athletic director for communications.

Brand is the volunteer media coordinator for the tournament.

Planning has been going on for more than a year, largely through the volunteer efforts of ASU athletics employees senior associate athletic director Mike Chismar (tournament director), Jim Bochenek (facility coordinator) and Brand. They also have more than 100 volunteers from throughout ASU helping out.

While the end result will be a successful basketball tournament, Lisa Love, ASU’s vice president for athletics, says the effort is part of a bigger picture for the university.

“Bringing the NCAA tournament to our neighborhood helps raise the consciousness of the terrific excitement of college basketball,” she says.

“It serves ASU well for our vibrant metropolitan area to see and think about college basketball. Really, it’s ‘Marketing 101’ for our basketball program that we are building in all facets, from caliber of competitiveness to fan support and arena environment. From a national perspective, all collegiate basketball eyes will be on Phoenix for this regional.”

The madness for ASU’s athletics department will not end with this year’s games. The university also will conduct the men’s regional tournament in 2009 at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, and the women’s regional in Tempe in 2010. In addition to those events, ASU is in the process of bidding for the right to be the host site of the NCAA Final Four in 2012. If ASU earns the Final Four nod, the university also will play host to a regional tournament in 2011.

For more information on the NCAA men’s basketball tournament, visit the Web site