UNIONTOWN, Pa. – The United States Collegiate Athletic Association and Penn State Fayette, The Eberly Campus have agreed to terms that will bring the USCAA Basketball National Championships back to Fayette County through 2018. The agreement, announced Friday, will extend Penn State Fayette’s host bid beyond 2014, the last year in a previously agreed upon two-year cycle.
“The USCAA is excited to return to Uniontown and the Laurel Highlands for the next several years,” says USCAA Associate Director Matt Simms. “Penn State Fayette and the city of Uniontown have provided wonderful venues and incredible hospitality for our student-athletes and coaches who visit each year, and we look forward to our continued partnership.”
Penn State Fayette has hosted the USCAA Basketball Championships since 2009, when 30 teams competed in a women’s and two men’s divisions. Since then, the USCAA has added a second women’s division and expanded the tournament to include 34 teams. The agreement also allows for further expansion, up to a total of 40 teams and six days of competition. Currently, teams compete over four days.
“There have been so many positives about hosting the championships,” says Penn State Fayette Athletic Director Vince Capozzi. “From the friendships forged to the economic benefits to the community and the great exposure to the best small college basketball in the nation.”
The championships have averaged more than 600 participants playing in more than 40 games each year. Attendance has also grown each year, with a record of more than 3,000 fans attending games at the 2013 championships. The swell of activity in the area creates an economic impact of more than $400,000 per year in the region. With expansion, that number could increase to as much as $600,000 per year.
“We are proud of our event and we understand the importance an event like this can have in the Uniontown community,” adds Simms. “We have received tremendous support from the local community and we look forward to continued partnerships with local business and volunteers. We are optimistic that this agreement will allow us to give back to the region even more through strategic partnerships and community involvement.”
One partnership has already been extended, as Nemacolin Woodlands Resort has agreed to continue as the host hotel of the USCAA Basketball National Championships throughout the agreement. The partnership began in 2010 and has since grown into Nemacolin becoming the tournament’s presenting sponsor in 2013. Nemacolin will continue as the presenting sponsor through 2018, and will also be the title sponsor of the annual skills competition held at the campus the day prior to the start of competition.
“Our partnership with Nemacolin has been vital to the growth and success of both the basketball championships and the USCAA,” says Simms. “We want to provide a first-class experience for all of our participants, and we feel that the combination of Nemacolin Woodlands Resort and its offerings along with the facilities at Penn State Fayette provide us with that opportunity. Similar events cannot match what we have here in Uniontown.”
The USCAA will also look to expand upon its Fayette County Hoops Festival, a community event held the week of the tournament and supported extensively by the FayPenn Economic Development Council. The USCAA held its first festival in 2013, featuring a downtown celebration with a parade, vendors and a Monte Carlo night. The festival also included the Highlands Hospital USCAA 5K Run/Walk and a free youth basketball clinic. It’s one more dynamic the event creates in the area, and one that Capozzi has seen from the beginning.
“The tournament experience is completely different now,” says Capozzi. “The community is so much more abuzz about the championships, especially with the community events that go into making the Fayette County Hoops Fest.”
While additional activities have not yet been added, the USCAA and FayPenn expect to grow the festival over the next several years. The new agreement will also help provide stability for the event over the next several years.
“We started from scratch in 2013 [for the festival], and we found what we think is going to work and what we want to improve upon,” says Simms. “It was a successful event and we will continue to pursue opportunities that will attract our participants and fans to explore local businesses and attractions.”
Tournament dates for the next five years are scheduled for March 4-8, 2014; March 3-7, 2015; March 1-5, 2016; February 28-March 4, 2017; and February 27-March 3, 2018.
For more information on the USCAA or sponsorship opportunities you can visit www.theuscaa.com or follow the championships at uscaabasketball.prestosports.com.