This March, the Madness is coming to JBU. John Brown will host the Sooner Athletic Conference Men’s and Women’s basketball tournaments March 1-3 in Bill George Arena.
After several past bids to host the event in Murray Sells Gym, JBU was finally awarded its first Tournament this year after completing the Bill George Arena in 2010.
While SAC tournaments typically are not free to fans, this year the university will be subsidizing ticket costs so students will be able to attend games for free and faculty will pay five dollars instead of the regular cost of 10 dollars.
“If they want to come, we want them here, and we don’t want them to pay so we are going to subsidize it,” said Athletic Director.
Any student that visits the WLHC Athletic office on February 27 and 28 during regular office hours can sign up for a free ticket. On March 1st, all students who are on the list will have free admission.
The only other people who will be attending the tournament for free are members of other teams, press and tournament volunteers.
Many of the tournament volunteers are retired faculty and boosters, including former Athletic Director Bob Burns and many of former men’s head coach John Sheehy’s old friends.
“All of these guys were following athletics when they were here and never got to experience this and now they want to help,” said Daugherty.
Volunteers are helping with concessions, selling tickets at the gate, handling all-access and media passes, monitoring doors, guest services and baking food for the hospitality room.
There will also be students running the live video feed of all of the tournament games along with multiple outside radio broadcast crews.
The Athletic Department also choreographs when each team is playing and what referees are officiating which games.
With the top eight men’s and women’s teams converging on Siloam Springs for the tournament, volunteers will not be the only members of the greater Siloam Springs community that will be affected.
“There are 16 teams and their fans coming to this area. I can imagine that hotels and restaurants are going to see a tremendous impact. our hope is that many of them will stay local and eat,” said Daugherty.
The teams are staying in hotels in Siloam Springs and Springdale and local businesses will likely see increased traffic the weekend of the tournament.
“I’m amazed at our community presence,” said Sports Information Director Simeon Hinsey about fans at regular season games, “What I’m disappointed about sometimes is our student section. I want to see our students step up to the plate.”
A good turnout from the students could make home court even more advantageous, according to Hinsey.
With the playoffs at home for the first time, John Brown students and community members will experience playoff basketball like never before.