Courtesy: MAAC Sports

MAAC & NCAA Come Together to Form Winning Relationship

Courtesy:  MAAC Sports
Release:  March 09, 2017

Reaching an NCAA Championship is the culmination of hard work and dedication by a program to achieve athletic glory. The Metro Athletic Atlantic Conference (MAAC) and NCAA have engaged in a partnership to host various championships spanning an array of sports dating back to 1995. The opportunity to host NCAA Championship events has enabled the MAAC and its members to gain national exposure to help further establish the mission of the conference.

“In 1990, when the MAAC moved its basketball tournament to what was then the Knickerbocker Arena in Albany, I, among others, recognized the options the facility presented the league for hosting NCAA Championships,” said MAAC Commissioner Rich Ensor. “This led the MAAC to partner with the arena and Siena College on hosting its first NCAA DI Men’s Basketball First & Second Rounds in 1995. Pretty much since that sellout experience, the MAAC has been aggressive in seeking out bids to a wide variety of NCAA Championships in multiple venues throughout its geographic footprint.”

The MAAC and its 11 institutions are strongly bound by the sound principles of quality and integrity in academics and excellence in athletics. In 2016-17 alone, the MAAC will host three NCAA Championships over the course of the academic year (NCAA Cross Country, NCAA Men’s Basketball & NCAA Rowing).

This fall, the MAAC, along with member institutions Iona College and Manhattan College co-hosted the 2016 NCAA Men’s and Women’s Cross Country Northeast Regional at the renown Van Cortlandt Park in Bronx, New York. Van Cortlandt Park was a prominent location for the NCAA Championships to be held, as it is the third largest park in New York City. The venue offered fans a taste of New York City history and provided beautiful fall foliage for all viewers. 

“Iona and the MAAC are proud to serve as hosts for NCAA Championships and provide a quality student-athlete experience,” notes Iona Vice President for Athletics Administration Rick Cole.

“It is always an honor to be selected to host an NCAA championship event. There is a great deal of work and collaboration that takes place with the NCAA, NYC Parks Department and the MAAC prior to and during the event. But to watch the thousands of student-athletes, parents, and cross country aficionados gather at the historic Van Cortandt Park Cross Country Course to cheer from the sidelines while others strive for their best performances, truly makes this championship a special one,” Manhattan Director of Intercollegiate Athletics Marianne Reilly said.

After months of planning, participants toed the starting line on Friday, November 11. The Women’s 6K started off the championships and was shortly followed by the Men’s 10K. A total of 81 men’s and women’s cross country teams were represented in the Northeast Regional, with over 500 student-athletes participating.

Coming on top of the men’s side was No. 5 Syracuse University. Finishing in second place was MAAC member and co-host No. 7 Iona. With their performance, the Gaels’ men’s cross country team advanced to NCAA National Championship for the 15th consecutive season. Providence College finished in first place on the women’s side for the second-straight year. Iona’s women’s cross country team was the top MAAC finisher at ninth place overall.

“It was beneficial that our student-athletes were able to experience an NCAA Regional Championship at the famous VCP (Van Cortlandt Park), as it is a home venue for us and it allowed parents to come and see their sons and daughters compete on that stage,” said Iona men’s and women’s cross country and track & field head coach Ricardo Santos.

The MAAC alongside members Canisius College and Niagara University hosts its second NCAA Championship of the academic year when the First & Second Rounds of the 2017 NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship comes to the KeyBank Center in Buffalo, New York.

“The return of the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament is critically important for Buffalo tourism, as it generates millions in economic impact and attracts thousands of new visitors to our resurgent destination. Repeatedly attracting an event of this significance and renown elevates Buffalo’s reputation as a top-tier city for college and amateur athletics,” said Patrick Kaler, President and CEO of Visit Buffalo Niagara, which oversees the Buffalo Niagara Sports Commission. “We are deeply appreciative of the MAAC’s continued efforts to make sure Buffalo remains a host city for NCAA events in the years to come.”

The multipurpose arena located in downtown Buffalo will serve as a home for the NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship for the first time since 2014. MAAC fans can experience one of the most exciting sporting events of the year right in their hometown.

“As the Buffalo community finalizes preparations to host our seventh NCAA Championship event, it will serve as yet another opportunity to showcase the renaissance that is occurring in Western New York to a national audience,” Canisius Director of Athletics Bill Maher said.  “The college basketball fans in Buffalo have again demonstrated their interest in the event, as Buffalo is again among the top selling sites for the Championship. That support will allow Canisius, Niagara, and the MAAC to ensure that we provide a championship experience for the teams and the fan bases that are fortunate to play in the KeyBank Center this year.”

“We are thrilled to partner with the MAAC and Canisius College in hosting the First and Second Rounds of the NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship. Not only does this provide great exposure for the three hosts, but it is a tremendous event for the region,” notes Niagara Director of Athletics Simon Gray. “Western New York is so supportive of our local sports, but it also truly shines on a national stage. Pegula Sports Entertainment and the Buffalo Sabres are also instrumental in hosting NCAA Championships.  The synergy is powerful among all parties and the region’s incredible fans benefit.”

An NCAA Championship serves as a significant opportunity for MAAC and institutional staffs to gain hands-on experience planning and working a premier sporting event. The city of Buffalo and surrounding businesses have the chance to prosper from the event due to the high demand of the national stage. The First Round is slated to tip-off on Thursday, March 16, with the Second Round to follow on Saturday, March 18.

“Hosting NCAA events provides the MAAC and member schools with a revenue source to supplement operational budgets. Additionally, it provides the MAAC brand with exposure on national broadcasts of these championships. From a professional development perspective hosting NCAA Championships provides valuable training and networking opportunities for MAAC and member school staffs.  Most importantly, it rewards MAAC fans with access to game tickets. The local community also benefits from the economic impact of championships as fans from throughout the country visit and spend in local restaurants, bars, and hotels,” said Commissioner Ensor.

On Memorial Day Weekend, the MAAC hosts its third and final NCAA Championship of the academic year. The 2017 NCAA Women’s Rowing Championship features 36 teams from DI, DII & DIII and takes place at Mercer Lake in West Windsor, NJ from May 26-28. The Ivy League co-hosts the event alongside the MAAC.

Mercer Lake also serves as the host site for the 2017 MAAC Men’s and Women’s Rowing Championship, which takes place on Friday, May 12. 

In 2018, the MAAC and Siena College are set to host the NCAA Women’s Basketball Regional at the Times Union Center in Albany, NY. The MAAC, along with Siena, successfully hosted the 2015 NCAA Women’s Basketball Regional at the Times Union Center, which was the highest selling site amongst all four regionals.

“Times Union Center takes great pride in its history with the NCAA and the events that we have been fortunate enough to host in the past,” said Bob Belber, SMG Regional General Manager.  “NCAA championships give national attention not only to the Times Union Center, but to the Capital Region as well. The significant number of visitors that these events bring to the area support economic growth throughout Albany. It has always been and will continue to be our goal to ensure that the student-athletes and their fans have the championship experience that they work so hard to achieve. We look forward to working with the NCAA in the future.”

The city of Albany will be on full display as fans from all over the nation get the chance to check out the brand-new Albany Convention Center, which had its soft opening this week. The 82,000-square-foot facility is a can’t miss attraction.

The Times Union Center is the home of the MAAC Basketball Championships as the league and arena have continued their partnership through 2019. This year’s championships mark the 18th time that the MAAC has brought its Basketball Championships to the Times Union Center, formerly known as the Knickerbocker Arena and Pepsi Arena.

The MAAC along with its member institutions welcome the opportunity to host NCAA Championships with the ultimate goal of providing everlasting memories for student-athletes all over the nation.

“The NCAA also relies on it membership to provide student-athletes with an opportunity for their ‘shining moments’,” said Commissioner Ensor. As I view the many championships the MAAC has hosted for the NCAA, from basketball, to ice hockey, wrestling, cross country, and rowing, it is those moments that remain most vivid, while knowing it has also allowed the MAAC to be recognized as a consistent and reliable host partner for our colleagues at the NCAA.” 

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