Nevada to host 2006 tournament | NevadaAppeal.com

Nevada to host 2006 tournament

The Western Athletic Conference announced Friday that its board of directors have awarded Reno and the University of Nevada the 2006 men’s and women’s basketball tournaments.

Reno won out over bids from Boise State, Fresno and Utah State. The latter will enter the WAC next season along with Idaho and New Mexico State. The Nevada bid is tied in with the Reno-Sparks Convention and Visitors Authority. The tournament will be played March 7-11 at Lawlor Events Center.

Nevada athletic director Cary Groth, who was en route from Dallas to Las Vegas for tonight’s football game, was unavailable for comment. Mark Fox, Nevada’s first-year men’s basketball coach, was happy to hear the news.

“I think it will be great,” Fox said. “It will be good for the community and good for the team. We’ve been pretty successful in that building.”

The Wolf Pack men went 15-0 at Lawlor last year, including a 75-61 upset of then sixth-ranked Kansas on the second night of the Dodge Holiday Classic. Presently, Nevada owns the eighth-longest home winning streak in the nation.

Karl Benson, WAC commissioner, refused to reveal the actual vote, only saying that all four schools put in competitive bids. He said that Boise’s bid was actually for three years.

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“Obviously the Reno-Tahoe area is a destination that will be attractive to WAC fans,” Benson said from the WAC office in Englewood, Colo. “We hope we’ll see a greater number of tickets sold to the other WAC institutions.

“As we go to 2005-06, we have new members, and Reno becomes easier and more centrally located for New Mexico State, Idaho and Utah State. For seven of the nine schools it will be located for great fan travel. I think Reno can be a successful site.”

Originally, Groth submitted a bid proposing that Nevada host both the 2006 and the 2007 tournaments. Nevada had already won a bid to host this year’s tournament.

Benson said that the conference decided to go for a one-year contract at the present.

“Our next cycle will be a two-year cycle (2007 and 2008),” he said. “They (the tournaments) will go out to bid next spring, and it will be a two-year award. Part of the rationale to having a tournament at a site for two years is to maximize sponsorship and ticket sales, and hopefully generate (more) local interest.

“Having the tournament this year, puts Reno in a two-year window. As we look to 2007-08, there isn’t anything that would rule out Reno being considered for 2007 and 2008.”

Nevada hosted the Big West Conference tournament from 1996 to 2000 at Lawlor Arena, so the school is used to hosting major events.

Benson said conference coaches would like to have a neutral site, which Utah State offered. Had Utah State won the bid, the tournament would have been played in Salt Lake City, which is 80 miles away from the Utah State campus in Logan.

“At this juncture, we’re not prepared to go to a neutral site,” Benson said. “If you poll our (basketball) coaches, they are much more concerned about the competitive issue.”

Contact Darrell Moody at dmoody@nevadaappeal.com or 881-1281.