CCU lands Big South hoops tournaments for three years

The Coastal Carolina men’s and women’s basketball teams’ chances of making the Big Dance got a whole lot easier on Thursday when the Big South Conference announced it will hold its postseason tournaments on their home floor.

The Big South selected Conway and Myrtle Beach as the big winners in the bidding to host the 2013-15 conference tournaments at a single site. Recent formats had higher-seeded teams hosting early round games and the men’s and women’s championship games at separate venues.

The tournament’s three-year stint will be played starting next season at Coastal’s new, on-campus Student Recreation and Convocation Center, which is scheduled to replace tiny Kimbel Arena as the Chanticleers’ home in the fall. The 3,600-seat, $35 million project is currently undergoing the finishing touches.

Coastal partnered with Myrtle Beach to post the winning bid, which was announced at the Big South presidents’ meeting in Hilton Head Island. Although financial details of the bid were not released, the combination of a new facility and a dynamic tourist area to attract fans and students during spring break were major factors.

“This was not an easy decision for the (school presidents),” Big South Conference commissioner Kyle Kallander said in a statement. “Ultimately, they chose the bid from Myrtle Beach/Coastal Carolina, and we are looking forward to taking our marquee event to the Grand Strand for the next three years.”

The events will not only be an offseason boon to businesses at the beach, but also a boost for Coastal’s basketball programs. The men haven’t been to the NCAA Tournament since 1993, missing out on the automatic bid on the road to UNC Asheville in the title game and failing to win the tournament title for 18 straight seasons. The women have never been to the NCAA Tournament.

But that could change with the help of a little home cooking. Adding 2,700 fans in the stands (Kimbel seated just over 900) for a pair of programs on the rise could be just the ticket to the Big Dance.

Photo by Randall Hill Photography

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