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April 14, 2003
National basketball tournament brings spotlight to Ohio University
By Jessica Stark

Perennial college basketball powerhouses Louisville and Arizona failed to advance to this year's NCAA Final Four in New Orleans. This Thursday, however, students from those institutions will compete at Ohio University for a chance to win a national basketball championship of their own.

Exceptional recreational facilities and nationally recognized intramural sports program make Ohio University an ideal host for the 2003 National Intramural Basketball Championships. From April 17-19, men's and women's teams from around the nation will experience the madness typically reserved for their varsity counterparts.

Sponsored by the National Intramural-Recreational Sports Association (NIRSA), the tournament comprises state and regional winners as well as other powerhouse teams that filled at-large bids on a first-come, first-serve basis. Fans will truly be seeing the best of the best intramural athletes from around the nation.

Following preliminary rounds on the Charles J. Ping Student Recreation Center's five basketball courts, the tournament will shift to the 13,000-seat Convocation Center, home to Ohio's varsity Bobcats. The women's championship is set for Saturday at 2 p.m. in The Convo, while men's teams will pound the hardwood beginning at 3:30.

Planners scheduled Saturday's championships with spectators in mind, says tournament director and coordinator of intramural sports Kurt Schooley. At halftime of the men's championship, one fan will have the chance to win $5,000 with a made halfcourt shot. Further, tournament high-risers will square off in a slam-dunk contest.

As with many activities at Ohio University, student involvement is at the tournament's core. Student volunteers have had a hand in every aspect of the tournament, ranging from its planning to its organization to its execution. Even the nation's best student whistle-toters competed for the opportunity to officiate tournament games.

"We take pride in the fact this tournament is planned and administered by students for student participants," Schooley says. "Many former student volunteers have used the experience they have obtained at our tournaments as a springboard to professional success."

Whether it's weekend warriors doing their best Michael Jordan impersonation or former high school stars reliving their glory days, those participating in intramural sports are a sizeable bunch.

Eighty percent of college students nationwide participate in recreational sports; sixty-nine percent of incoming students intend to play intramural sports. Echoing the national trend, seventy-two percent of Ohio University students participate in intramural and recreational sports programs.

It's not just the students, however, who appreciate what Ohio University has to offer.

"Being a part of three Ohio University-run tournaments," says Michael Penner, athletic event coordinator at Ohio State University, "I always found it amazing how members of many different campus departments, Ohio University alumni, NIRSA, the entire Ohio University Campus Recreation staff and the numerous local businesses all came together to create such an unforgettable experience for hundreds of college students."

Considered a campus crown jewel, the three-floor Ping Center has more than 160,000 square feet devoted to aerobic activity and strength training, featuring an indoor track, a climbing wall and other recreational facilities.

"There's always so much to do on Ohio University's campus," student Jason Bell says. "Whether I take a walk in Emeriti Park, work out at Ping or play in a pickup basketball game on South Green, I always have fun, I always have something to do and I always have something to get involved in."

Jessica Stark is a student writer for University Communications and Marketing. Joseph Hughes, a writer for University Communications and Marketing, contributed to the story


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