ELMHURST, Ill. In its first year in Sioux Falls, S.D., the 2009 Summit League Basketball Championships enjoyed record success. The league set marks for women's and overall attendance corporate sponsorship, ticket sales and program sales during the four-day event, March 7-10, at Sioux Falls Arena.
Attendance for the entire tournament (men's and women's combined) reached 34,681, a new standard for The Summit League Championships. The previous record of 28,597, set in 1994, was eclipsed during the women's championship game, the seventh of the tournament's eight sessions.
The women's tournament sessions drew 16,999, shattering the previous record of 10,357 set in 2005. Individual women's session records were set in the first quarterfinal, the semifinals and the championship game. On the men's side, the 2009 tournament drew 17,682, the highest total since 1994.
The Summit League Tournament featured a record level of corporate sponsorships with over $290,000. Daktronics, based in Brookings, S.D., supplied video replay boards that will be used at the 2009 Final Four in Detroit, along with digital display panels in front of the scorer's table. The company also provided an LED digital backdrop in the media center's press conference room, making The Summit League the only conference in the nation to use that type of technology at its tournament.
The men's and women's championship games were broadcast by ESPN2 and ESPNU, marking the first time that sporting events originating from South Dakota were televised live to a national audience.
"We are extremely pleased with the tournament support in our first year in Sioux Falls," said Commissioner Tom Douple. "We look forward to returning next year and building upon our initial success."
On the court, both the men's champion, North Dakota State, and the women's champion, South Dakota State, earned NCAA automatic bids in their first seasons of eligibility. NDSU became the first team since the men's tournament expanded to 64 teams in 1985 to achieve that feat and the first since 1970. SDSU is the second women's team to reach the NCAA Tournament in its initial season of eligibility and the first since 2004.
The Summit League Championships will return to Sioux Falls Arena in 2010 from March 6-9.