Basketball Tourney Aids OKC Economy
Morrow, Darrell, THE JOURNAL RECORD
By Darrell Morrow
Oklahoma City's All-College Basketball Tournament is an event with a history older than any other major national basketball tournaments and still going strong.
It traditionally is played annually between Christmas and New Year's Day at the Myriad Convention Center. It has grown into a tournament that now costs more than $300,000 to produce, said Stanley Draper Jr., executive director of Oklahoma City All-Sports Association.
This year's 57th annual All-College Basketball Tournament Dec. 29 and 30 will match University of Texas, Weber State University of Ogden, Utah, Alaska University at Anchorage and the University of Oklahoma.
Tournament opener will be a match between OU and Alaska University at 6 p.m. Dec. 29. A game between Texas University and Weber State University will follow at 8 p.m. Losers of the first two games will be matched at 6 p.m. and the winners at 8 p.m. Dec. 30.
"These four universities will make 153 different universities that have competed in the All-College since the tournament was originated," Draper said.
"The All-College Tournament was the first tournament conceived that is still going on. It out dates the NCAA, National Invitational Tournament, or NIT, in Madison Square Garden in New York City, and it out dates the NAIA (National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics) _ going into our 57th year."
It was in February 1957 that a non-profit corporation was created through the sports and recreation committee of Oklahoma City Chamber of Commerce that was to become the Oklahoma City All-Sports Association. Its main function at that time was to perpetuate, sponsor and finance the All-College Basketball Tournament.
"In 1956, The Daily Oklahoman had stated that it was getting out of the business of sponsoring sporting events," Draper said. "It had sponsored the tournament since 1936. Originally, it was a 32-team affair and it was played in high schools throughout Oklahoma City, then it was reduced to 16 teams and then it was reduced to eight. It was eight teams when we took over in 1957.
"In 1981, it became a four-team tournament because of the difficulty with the schools being restricted to playing a limited number of games. It was difficult for a school to come in and play three games away from home, so we reduced it to four. I think we were among the very last of the tournaments to go from eight to four teams," he said.
The tournament has economic benefits for Oklahoma City.
"This tournament means a lot to the local economy," Draper said, "although we have never put any exact figures on its economic impact, but more importantly, it helps us get other events.
"Having this tournament has enabled us to get a lot of other events because of the reputation of the tournament prior to us taking it on and after we took it on. It led to us getting the Midwest Regional and led to our getting the first and second rounds of the NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association) Basketball Championships in 1994.
"We would rather have the first and second rounds because that means more to the city bringing in eight teams instead of four. The two teams that are the winners then go with the other winners from the other seven first and second round sites and that makes up the sweet 16 teams. We will need 10 hotels for that tournament," he said.
Draper said it is through the work of the 41-member volunteer board of directors that the tournament and other special activities brought to Oklahoma City by the All-Sports Association are successful. Members of the board accept personal financial responsibility for the All-College Basketball Tournament, he said.
John Philbin is president of the board and chairman of the All-College Tournament. Bill Nashert is vice president and one of eight vice chairmen of the tournament committee. …