INDIANAPOLIS - On Wednesday, the NCAA announced that the Atlantic Sun joined 13 other schools and conferences receiving funds as part of the NCAA Division I Women's Basketball Grant Program to increase awareness, exposure and attendance of women's basketball.
A total of 88 member schools and conferences submitted proposals in the third year of the pilot program.
"What we have learned during the first two years of the program is that marketing focused on ticket sales rather than just attendance and programs that focus on a single concept stand out. They have proven to be more successful in terms of overall attendance, achievement of specific program goals, the ability to bring in new fans and long-term sustainability," said NCAA Division I Women's Basketball Vice President Sue Donohoe.
National office staff served as evaluators of the proposals. Grants are awarded on a one-year basis and are not automatically renewed.
The 2010-11 grant recipients are the Atlantic Sun Conference, Bowling Green State University; Columbia University; University of Dayton; University of Hartford; Kansas State University; Miami University; Southern Illinois University at Carbondale; Stanford University; University of Florida; Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University; West Virginia University; Xavier University and the West Coast Conference. ETSU received Grants totaling $100,000 for 2008-09 and 2009-10 seasons.
"Being awarded this Grant, in addition to having been the only conference in the country this past year to have 100% participation in the NCAA Women's Basketball Pack the House program, is exciting news," said Sherri Booker Atlantic Sun Senior Associate Commissioner. "We salute our member institutions for their dedication in promoting women's basketball and this Grant will allow us the opportunity to continue to do so. We have so many positive things occurring in our women's basketball programs and we will work hard to continue this success in the 2010-2011 year. ETSU has set the bar high and we are excited for the opportunity to continue their success in a conference-wide program."
For 2009-10, 10 of the 18 grant recipients increased their home game attendance averages, with grantee attendance up 7.5 percent overall. Eastern Michigan University posted an increase in home attendance of 86.8 percent, while East Tennessee State University increased its average attendance by 77.7 percent. Several of the grant recipients established single-game record attendance marks.
"The Grant Team at ETSU is honored to be part of a collaborative effort with the A-Sun Conference staff to market, promote and grow the sport of women's basketball," said Senior Associate Athletic Director Barbie Breedlove. "The coaches, student athletes and fans at ETSU have benefitted greatly from having received grant funding from the NCAA Division 1 Women's Basketball Grant Program the last two years. In year three of the program, we hope to share our experience and expertise with the ten other A-Sun member institutions to help them promote attendance at women's basketball games."
As part of the Grant, the member institutions of the Atlantic Sun will meet in Johnson City, Tenn. in July for a two-day, in-person seminar to begin planning for the year-long program.
"We are proud that after the first two years of the program, 12 of our previous grant recipients are on track to achieve a 50 percent increase in attendance over a five-year period," Donohoe said.
The NCAA will continue to look for ways to provide marketing and guidance to schools and conferences to help promote women's basketball, she added.
This marketing initiative concept was generated from the NCAA Division I Women's Basketball Discussion Group, chaired by the late NCAA President Myles Brand. The group consisted of head coaches, media representatives, former student-athletes, conference, institutional and Women's Basketball Coaches Association administrators. It has been strongly supported by the NCAA Division I Women's Basketball Committee and the NCAA Division I Women's Basketball Issues Committee.
Fans can follow the Atlantic Sun on Twitter and on Facebook. Visit twitter.com/AtlanticSun to begin receiving updates on conference news, weekly awards, and from A-Sun championships. Atlantic Sun followers with a Facebook account can become a "fan" of the conference by visiting facebook.com/AtlanticSunConference.
The Atlantic Sun Conference is an 11-member league committed to Building Winners for Life. The A-Sun stands for achievement with integrity in both the academic and athletic arenas, with a focus on the balance between the two for our student-athletes. Headquartered in Macon, Ga., the A-Sun boasts six of the top eight media markets in the Southeast. The A-Sun includes a blend of the most prestigious and dynamic private and public institutions in the region: Belmont University, Campbell University, East Tennessee State University, Florida Gulf Coast University, Jacksonville University, Kennesaw State University, Lipscomb University, Mercer University, University of North Florida, University of South Carolina Upstate and Stetson University.