MACON, Ga. – The NCAA Women's Basketball “Pack the House” initiative is underway, and once again all 10 A-Sun teams are participating to promote their programs with a chance of becoming the 2012 champion.
“We are very proud of all of the institutions in the Atlantic Sun Conference for their hard work in promoting our women’s basketball programs,” said Sherri Booker, A-Sun Senior Associate Commissioner. “Through their efforts, the A-Sun is the only NCAA Division I conference in the country to have 100% participation in the NCAA Pack the House Challenge the past two years. Last year those marketing efforts resulted in an overall attendance increase of more than 15 percent at our women’s basketball contests. We will continue to increase our marketing efforts and our fan bases as we work to grow the sport of women’s basketball in the A-Sun.”
Creative promotions designed to generate attendance at the games below include a variety of events: a holiday promotion featuring free photos with Santa and a photo/autograph session with a WNBA player; partnerships with local elementary schools; membership drives with on-campus booster clubs and student organizations; food drives and other community service initiatives; and plans to set a Guinness Book world record, to name a few.
2011-12 A-Sun Pack the House Schedule
Nov. 17 • Savannah State at North Florida
Dec. 30 • No. 3 Notre Dame at Mercer
Jan. 24 • LSU at ETSU
Jan. 26 • North Florida at Belmont
Jan. 28 • ETSU at USC Upstate
Feb. 2 • Stetson at Jacksonville
Feb. 9 • Belmont at Stetson
Feb. 11 • Mercer at Kennesaw State
Feb. 16 • ETSU at Lipscomb
Feb. 18 • Stetson at Florida Gulf Coast
A-Sun PTH matchups in 2011-12 include three non-conference and seven A-Sun contests. On Nov. 17, Savannah State escaped from UNF Arena with a 64-61 overtime win over North Florida in front of a crowd of 3,461 on the Ospreys’ Elementary School Day. UNF will play in one other PTH game on the road vs. Belmont on Jan. 26.
Two other notable non-conference matchups are circled on this year’s schedule, the biggest of which comes next as Mercer hosts 2010-11 NCAA runner-up, No. 3 Notre Dame, on Dec. 30. The Bears will try to slow down the high-scoring Irish, who have totaled 90 or more points five times this season. The only Irish loss came at the hands of No. 1 Baylor (94-81) on Nov. 20. Initiatives for the game include a drive for the Middle Georgia Food Bank and incentives for middle Georgia and Atlanta area Catholic school students.
ETSU and Stetson will be involved in three PTH contests apiece in 2011, each playing two on the road. ETSU, who won the “Pack the House Challenge” in 2009, hosts SEC-foe LSU, then goes on the road to battle USC Upstate on Jan. 28 and Lipscomb on Feb. 16. Lipscomb was the A-Sun’s first PTH Challenge winner in 2007-08. ETSU has held the record attendance mark the past two season for the A-Sun, drawing 3,769 fans for its game against nationally-ranked Vanderbilt in 2010-11 and 4,601 for its contest in 2009-10.
The defending A-Sun women’s champion Stetson Hatters, currently tied for first in the A-Sun, also play two of their three PTH contests on the road. The Hatters are led by junior Victoria McGowan, who leads the A-Sun in scoring (16.4 ppg), in assists (4.5 apg) and in steals (3.1 spg).
Stetson travels to Jacksonville to face the A-Sun’s 2009-10 PTH winner on Feb. 2, then returns home to face Belmont on Feb. 9. The Hatters wrap up the challenge on Feb. 18 at Florida Gulf Coast, who was the A-Sun winner in the 2010-11 PTH Challenge. FGCU hosted a program regular season record 2,921 fans at its women's basketball game versus ETSU on Feb. 7, 2011, at Alico Arena in the A-Sun/CSS Game of the Week.
The Eagles lead the A-Sun in 11 statistical categories, and are currently ranked No. 4 in the CollegeInsider.com Mid-Major Top 25 poll. FGCU is led by Sarah Hansen (14.8 ppg, 7.8 rpg, 2.1 apg). With potentially much on the line for both teams, this game could set up to be a big score for PTH initiatives.
"Pack the House" is national effort in which conferences and institutions compete to build attendance. NCAA Division I women's basketball marketing staffs select a home game and designate that date as a "Pack the House" game with the goal of setting an attendance record. One winner from each of the 32 conferences and one from a group of independent institutions is selected at the conclusion of the challenge. Selections are based on marketing plan creativity and attendance criteria. Last season more than half of the Division I membership – 178 institutions – participated in the effort that attracted more than 554,000 fans.
The NCAA will make a $500 donation to a non-profit organization on behalf of the A-Sun winner of the Pack the House challenge.