June 12, 2007
MACON, Ga. - The Atlantic Sun Conference selected Allen Arena on the campus of Lipscomb University as the host site for the 2008 and 2009 General Shale Brick Atlantic Sun Basketball Championships at the A-Sun Spring Meetings in Daytona Beach, Fla.
The Nashville institution will host both the men's and women's basketball championships on March 5-8 in 2008 and on March 4-7 in 2009. This will be Lipscomb University's first opportunity to host the league's premier championships.
"The Atlantic Sun Conference is thrilled to see the basketball championships return to Nashville," said first-year Commissioner Ted Gumbart. "The support for the conference in the city has been tremendous with two successful basketball programs competing for men's and women's championships.
" We are excited and know that our fans will enjoy a first-class event in one of our best facilities in a great destination city of the conference. Lipscomb will do a tremendous job in hosting the newly combined men's and women's basketball tournament."
The new format will feature 16 teams playing 14 games over four days, culminating in Championship Saturday. The men's basketball final will be featured on an ESPN property while the women's champion will be crowned live on Comcast Sports Southeast/Charter Sports Southeast (CSS).
"We are very excited to be selected to serve as the host for the 2008 and 2009 Atlantic Sun Conference men's and women's basketball championships," said Steve Potts, Lipscomb's Director of Athletics. "Bringing the men's and women's championships to one site is a unique and challenging opportunity.
"We fully intend to conduct an event of the highest quality that all of the basketball programs in the conference deserve and to showcase the Allen Arena, Lipscomb University, and the city of Nashville."
The Bisons basketball team is 36-4 on its home court at Allen Arena the past three years. The Bisons were the regular season A-Sun champion in 2006 and qualified for the National Invitation Tournament, but they have never won the conference tournament title.
"A lot of people might think it is added pressure, but I like playing at home," Bisons coach Scott Sanderson said. "Our past record at home doesn't mean anything, but we are confident when we play on our home court."
The women's tournament had been held in Dothan, Ala., the past four years. Lady Bisons coach Frank Bennett directed his team to the tournament championship in 2004 as Lipscomb qualified for its first NCAA Tournament berth.
"I think this is a great thing," Bennett said. "Lipscomb and Belmont are big rivals in basketball. I think this is an excellent location for the tournament."
Bennett also likes the fact that both the men's and women's tournament games will be played at the same time.
"So many people are fans of both of our teams," Bennett said. "Allen Arena is one of the best basketball venues of its size. People are always commenting what a great basketball facility we have. There is going to be a lot of excitement."
Melching Field at Conrad Park and Stetson University will continue to serve as the home of the Atlantic Sun Baseball Championship for the next two seasons. The A-Sun Baseball Championship has enjoyed great growth and fan support over the previous six years that the championship landed in DeLand, Fla.
Additionally, the conference voted to change the format of its soccer championship, adding a day of rest and recovery to the schedule. Beginning in the fall of 2007, the soccer tournament will be contested on Wednesday and Thursday with the title game featured on Saturday.
"Stetson University helped make the baseball championship one of the top events on the conference calendar and the membership recognized that by extending their hosting duties for another two seasons," said Gumbart. "Adding a day to our soccer championship will help raise the quality of both our title game and our representative's effort in the NCAA Championship."