The Sooner Athletic Conference Tournament drew regional fans and proved a success for the University, thanks to the work of faculty and alumnus volunteers.
The Sooner Athletic Conference Men’s and Women’s Basketball Tournament at Bill George Arena was University’s first time hosting.
Between managing lodging, transportation, and scheduling for visiting teams; and ticket sales and accommodations for fans, the SAC Tournament was a massive undertaking.
“As far as the logistics of running it and the feedback that we’ve gotten from visiting teams, it was very successful,” said Director of Athletics Robyn Daugherty, “it was a great event.”
The University not only was able to cover the $10,000 cost of the tournament but also make a net profit of $10,000 as well, which goes to the SAC.
Also, the University was able to pay the $2,000 it spent reimbursing student tickets out of its postseason tournament budget. Usually, the school will spend upwards of $7,000 traveling to tournaments out of state, but this year hosting the tournament kept costs down.
Another way the school was able to save money was the complimentary meals in the Arena’s hospitality room.
Local businesses Zaxby’s and Simmons donated food, and alumnus and faculty did their part, too.
“Our alumnus and our faculty and staff brought lots of food,” said Daugherty, “For three days we fed a lot of people a lot of food with no cost.”
The effect volunteers had on the tournament extended beyond food, though.
“We couldn’t have done it without the volunteers,” said Daugherty, “We had over 100 volunteer staff members that ran this thing and without them we would have failed.”
As well as the standard tournament events, JBU brought an NAIA tournament tradition to the conference level. The University hosted a Champions of Character event simultaneously with the tournament.
“This happens at the national tournament, but nobody’s ever seen it done at the conference level,” said Daugherty.
The event brought in young students from around the area to listen to university athletes speak about the program’s core values: integrity, respect, responsibility, sportsmanship and servant leadership.
“It was a huge success we had about 250 kids that came,” said Daugherty, “Our athletes did a phenomenal job.”
The students also chose a team to root for and attended tournament games.
“We can only see [the program] growing from here, and we’re going to [continue] to do it again at other points just to get them on our campus,” said Daugherty.
Because of the success of the tournament and JBU finally having the facilities to host it, the University expects to host more tournaments in the future.
We have a good venue, we put on a good tournament, and we get good crowds,” said Daugherty, “We’ll do it again for sure.”