Change in A-Sun basketball tournaments provides Lipscomb opportunities to host

Monday, July 1, 2013 at 9:02pm

Lipscomb is already slated to host two Atlantic Sun Conference championships during the 2013-14 school year.

That number could increase.

On Monday, the A-Sun unveiled its completed 2013-14 championship schedule, which included format changes the men’s and women’s basketball tournaments. For this upcoming season, the men’s tournament will be played from March 4-9, 2014 on campus sites throughout the championship, hosted by the highest seeds advancing in each round. The women’s basketball tournament runs a week later from March 11-16 with the top four seeds hosting the early rounds. The semifinals and championship game will be held on the campus of the highest remaining seed.

The league announced in April that the tournaments no longer would be held at Mercer in Macon, Ga. Instead, conference officials were hopeful to find a “top regional facility” to host the semifinal and championship rounds while the quarterfinal rounds would be played on campus sites.

The decision to move the tournament to campus sites for all three rounds was approved by the presidents’ council during last month’s annual spring meetings.

Matt Wilson, the league’s senior associate commissioner for championships and operations, said the tournament format will be evaluated at the end of next season. But he expects the tournament to stick with campus sites for at least two years.

“We think it is going to be a big benefit to growing fan bases locally and really add some value to what teams do in the regular season,” Wilson said. “We think it is a good solution for how to attack our basketball tournament. Definitely one of the outcomes we anticipate is attendance will be higher. Local interest will increase and it is an opportunity for fan bases to grow locally as teams are having success in basketball.”

The top eight teams make the men’s and women’s basketball tournaments. Since 2010, all three rounds for the men and women have been held at Mercer.

Lipscomb was the No. 8 seed in the men’s field last year and was knocked off by top-seed Mercer in the first round. The Lipscomb women have missed the league tournament three of the last four years.

Lipscomb hosts the A-Sun cross country championships at Percy Warner Park in November. Next May, the Bisons host the A-Sun softball tournament for the second straight year. Lipscomb also has a chance to host the semifinals and finals of the women’s soccer tournament, which is held on the campus of the No. 1 seed. The top seed will host the men’s tournament, which is also played in November.