Basketball Fans Ready for Touchstone Tourney

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Downtown Oklahoma City will be invaded by basketball fans on Saturday for the 67th edition of what began as the All-College Basketball Tournament in 1937.

It is the oldest college basketball tournament.

The Touchstone Energy All-College Basketball Classic at the Ford Center will feature Oklahoma State University vs. Brigham Young University at 5:30 p.m. and the University of Oklahoma vs. Michigan State at 8 p.m. Tickets are $18, $35 and $42.

The All-College Basketball Tournament was first sponsored and organized by the Oklahoma Publishing Co. The All Sports Association was formed in 1957 to serve as sponsor. For the next 43 years, the All Sports Association played a large role in hosting as many as 32 teams each year.

In 2000, the All Sports Association decided to secure a title sponsor to enhance the event and provide the financial support necessary to recruit the quality teams. At the same time, the electric cooperatives of Oklahoma, under the brand name Touchstone Energy, were also looking for sponsorship opportunities.

"As we (Touchstone Energy) were looking for sponsorship opportunities, we quickly realized the benefits of becoming the title sponsor of the All-College Basketball Tournament," said Western Farmers Electric Cooperative General Manager Jim O'Neill. "We have been extremely pleased with our partnership with the All Sports Association and the results the sponsorship money has enabled the event to accomplish."

"Touchstone Energy was selected because they had a very strong name in the local and national market," said Tim Brassfield, All Sports Association executive director. "Electric cooperatives are very stable companies with a reputation for successfully marketing other sports-related activities under the Touchstone Energy brand."

The tournament was altered to a two-game classic format in 2001, moving the games to just one night and creating a new name -- the Touchstone Energy All-College Basketball Classic. For the first time this year, ESPN and ESPN2 will broadcast the games live.

"The All-College Classic was a sellout last year, and it appears it will be again this year," O'Neill said. "We especially look forward to the exciting changes this year of moving to the Ford Center and our partnership with ESPN."

Since beginning their partnership, Touchstone Energy and the All Sports Association have also created two new events, the Touchstone Basketball Adventure and Leadership Summit, providing more opportunities for families to participate in sports-related activities the day of the games.

"The financial benefits from Touchstone's title sponsorship has allowed us to better the field, specifically through obtaining better quality teams as well as increasing exposure of the event," Brassfield said.

Touchstone Energy and the All Sports Association also present the Touchstone Basketball Adventure, now in its second year. A hands- on, interactive kids event, the Touchstone Basketball Adventure is free and open to the public. Scheduled in the Cox Convention Center from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, the Basketball Adventure includes inflatables, the AT&T Wireless Hoop World, Sports City U Basketball Clinic and prizes.

Touchstone Energy and 20 of Oklahoma's local electric cooperatives also present Leadership Summit, an all-day seminar designed to provide high school students an opportunity to receive valuable training from coaches, learn reporting skills from members of the media and write press releases for submission to their local newspapers. …