Pac-10 Votes to Revive Hoops Tourneys





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The Pac-10's Executive Officers' decision yesterday to institute postseason tournaments for both men's and women's basketball blended a mix of old and new.

While this is the first time the conference will host a women's tournament, the men's tourney is returning after a 10-year break.

In a vote taken separately from the women's decision, the executives passed the proposal for the men's tournament, 8-2. The proposal passed by the same margin in two earlier votes taken by the conference's athletics directors and by the Pac-10 Council. The only two dissenting schools in the earlier decisions were Stanford and Arizona.

The event is set to take place in March 2002 at Staples Center in Los Angeles.

Only the top-eight teams in the conference will receive bids to play in the three-day tournament hosted Thursday through Saturday. According to Jim Muldoon, assistant commissioner for the Pac-10, the tournament schedule should address any concerns about players missing more school for post-season play.

"There was a lot of concern about more classes being missed," Muldoon said. "But the tournament will push a week of regular season play into the vacation period so it should actually make things a little better."

The men's tournament, which began in 1987 and lasted through the 1990 season, collapsed due to a lack of financial success and fan interest. But this time around a six-year contract with FOX has virtually ensured a more lucrative outcome.

"FOX put together a very complete and attractive proposal," Muldoon said. "I think the right word would be synergy - FOX offered the deal and owns 40 percent of Staples Center, so it makes sense for a lot of different reasons."

According to Muldoon, the tournament is predicted to net $3 million per season, with the Pac-10 dividing the revenue among the 10 conference programs.

"We have good financial prospects," Muldoon said. "I think everyone is definitely excited."

Another factor fueling the decision to reinstitute a postseason tournament is the Pac-10's emergence as one of the strongest conferences in the country. Last year the Pac-10 boasted two No. 1 seeds in the NCAA Tournament - Stanford and Arizona. Both the Cardinal and the Wildcats have established themselves as perennial powerhouses and add to a conference that was historically recognized as riding on the coattails of one team - UCLA.

"The landscape in Pac-10 basketball is very different from 10 years ago," Muldoon said. "We have many talented teams and people are excited to go and watch the games."

Although both the men's and women's tournaments were voted on yesterday, the two proposals were agreed upon separately by different committees and required separate votes.

On the women's side, the decision passed after a 9-1 vote and along with the men's tournament, is set to to take place after the 2001-02 regular season.

The format includes all 10 teams participating in the four-day tournament, which will take place Friday through Monday. The Pac-10 Senior Women's Administrators have agreed that the tournament will take place at a campus site, but have still not firmed up a location. The administrators are expected to finalize a site in the next couple of weeks.

"Oregon has expressed interest in hosting the event and Stanford has in the past," Muldoon said. "I think either of those places would be great to kick the event off considering there is such a strong fan base for women's sports."

Other factors that will influence the decision include availability of facilities and hotel space.

In both the men's and women's tournaments, the winner of the postseason play will earn the conference's automatic bid to the NCAA tournament.

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