June 10, 2013
PROVIDENCE, R.I. - The American Athletic Conference has entered into an agreement with Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Conn., to host the inaugural Women's Basketball Championship for the 2013-14 season.
"We look forward to this partnership," said American Athletic Conference Commissioner Mike Aresco. "Mohegan Sun Arena offers our student-athletes, coaches and fans the best of many things -a world-class facility, a great destination and committed management. We feel that being at Mohegan Sun will enhance an already very successful women's tournament experience."
"We could not be more pleased to have been selected as the site of the American Athletic Conference Women's Basketball Championship," said Mitchell Etess, CEO of the Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority. "We believe we are the absolute best location for this tournament. Mohegan Sun has a long history of producing world-class events and we will work with the Conference to create an experience that is truly memorable for not only the student-athletes and coaches, but for each and every person who attends"
"The Mohegan Sun is a first class venue that is home to the WNBA's Connecticut Sun," SMU head coach Rhonda Rompola said. "This tournament has traditionally been one of the most successful in the country. The support that the people of Connecticut give is phenomenal which will make for a great student-athlete experience."
The Conference's women's basketball tournament has been one of the nation's strongest and most successful. Previously held in Hartford, Conn., the BIG EAST Women's Basketball Championship was the nation's attendance leader for nine straight years. The tournament produced 23 NCAA Final Four appearances, including Louisville and Connecticut in 2013, and nine national champions, including the Huskies' title this past season.
The 2014 Women's Basketball Championship will be held Friday, March 7 through Monday, March 10. All 10 teams in the league will participate in the championship, with seeding based on regular-season finishes. The top four seeds will receive byes to the quarterfinal round. The tournament winner will earn the league's automatic berth to the NCAA Championship. The semifinals will be televised on ESPNU, while the championship will be on ESPN or ESPN2. First round and quarterfinal games will be televised, with specific coverage plans to be released.
Home to the WNBA's Connecticut Sun, the 10,000-seat, state-of-the-art Mohegan Sun Arena opened in November of 2002, and is now internationally recognized as a premier facility. It is currently ranked as the No. 1 arena in the world, as well as the busiest in the United States by Venues Today. Mohegan Sun Arena was ranked third overall in Billboard Magazine's 2012 year-end reviews of the top 10 worldwide venues with a seating capacity between 5,001-10,000. Additionally, Mohegan Sun Arena was ranked fifth in the same category for the entire decade. The Arena has hosted championship boxing, college and professional men's and women's basketball, Davis Cup tennis, professional bull riding and professional bowling. The WNBA All Star Game has been hosted by Mohegan Sun Arena three times, with a fourth time this July.
The American Athletic Conference, based in Providence, R.I., will immediately take its place at the forefront of Division I athletics when it rebrands July 1, 2013. The 2013 membership will consist of schools that have won eight NCAA women's basketball championships since 1995. The league will also boast the most recent NCAA champions in men's basketball and women's basketball.
The American Athletic Conference comprises the following 10 member institutions: the University of Central Florida; University of Cincinnati, University of Connecticut, University of Houston, University of Louisville, University of Memphis, Rutgers University, Southern Methodist University, University of South Florida, and Temple University. In 2014-15, East Carolina University, Tulane University and the University of Tulsa become full members. The U.S. Naval Academy joins in football only in 2015. The American Athletic Conference is a member of the Bowl Championship Series. For more information on the Conference and its membership, please visit www.TheAmerican.org.