After Hurricane Maria caused disastrous flooding in the United States territory of Puerto Rico, the Puerto Rico Tip-Off has been relocated and will be played at the HTC Center on the campus of Coastal Carolina from Nov. 16-19.
This tournament will feature top programs such as Iowa State, who won the Big 12 Conference Tournament last season and finished the season ranked 16th, and South Carolina, who stunned the nation by becoming the fourth 7-seed to make it to the Final Four. Other teams involved in the tournament are Appalachian State, Boise State, Illinois State, Tulsa, UTEP and Western Michigan.
Coastal Carolina Athletic Director Matt Hogue talked about what hosting this event means to the university and to the community.
“I think that anytime we have a chance to host events that bring a lot of national attention and bring a lot of TV coverage those are positives,” said Hogue. “You have got a pretty bad situation in Puerto Rico right now. The promoters of this event needed a place for it to go and we were able step in and help out in that regard. We certainly hope that the event can be back where it belongs next season. Our thoughts and prayers continue to go out to the people of Puerto Rico.”
Hogue also touched on how the teams participating in the tournament will help generate revenue and recognition for Coastal’s campus and the community.
“The names of the teams participating already bring a certain type of credibility to the tournament,” said Hogue. “In general, having the event here is really key for us more so than who is or who is not playing in it.”
The HTC Center here at Coastal Carolina is no stranger to hosting major tournaments. From 2013 to 2015, Coastal Carolina hosted the Big South Men’s and Women’s Basketball tournaments and in March 2017, the University hosted the 2017 ACC Women’s Basketball tournament.
When those tournaments were played, it was the first week and weekend of March and spring break was happening, so the local foot traffic of students and faculty were a lot less than what will be seen when this tournament begins on Thursday, Nov. 16.
Hogue talked about certain things that the University has in place in regards for that kind of foot traffic, as well as possible parking issues.
“We are trying to mitigate any parking issue that may come up the best we can,” said Hogue. “I think when you look at the scope the ACC Women’s Tournament and this tournament, they are quite different. We are going to have to plan differently. When it comes to possible parking issues, we don’t have a complete plan yet because we honestly do not know what is going to be expected from the promoters that run this event. Those are some details we are currently discussing with them and will hope to know more in the coming weeks.”
The Puerto Rico Tip-Off tips off at 11:30 a.m. on Nov. 16 when USC takes on Illinois State.
UTEP and Boise State will follow after that game is finished. Iowa State will battle Appalachian State at 5:30 p.m. and Western Michigan and Tulsa will tip-off shortly after that game is completed.
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