Central Connecticut was named the Northeast Conference winner of the "Pack the House"challenge for the 2011-12 season. This marks the second consecutive year that the Blue Devils have represented the NEC among the NCAA's "Pack the House" Champions. Both years the Blue Devils were able to draw crowds of more than 1,700 to historic Detrick Gymnasium.
Central was one of 32 conference winners in the NCAA Division I "Pack the House" Challenge. "Pack the House" is a national effort in which conferences and institutions compete to build attendance. NCAA Division I women's basketball marketing staffs selected a home game and designated that date as a "Pack the House" game with the goal of setting an attendance record. One winner from each of the 32 conferences and one from a group of independent institutions are chosen each year, with the selections being based on marketing plan creativity and attendance criteria. The NCAA will award prizes and donate $500 to the nonprofit organization of each winning institution's choice.
And with 153 institutions participating in the effort this year, attracting more than 431,000 fans, pack the house, they did.
A crowd of 1,746 packed Detrick Gym for Central's November 30, game against Holy Cross. The Blue Devils used 38 second half points to win, 63-54, over the Crusaders. Junior Jaclyn Babe led all players with 24 points in the game.
The Blue Devils previous "Pack the House" victory was the result of 1,824 fans packing Detrick Gym for the 2010-11 season opener against Hartford. Central earned a 46-41 victory in that game.
For the second straight year, the Blue Devils' $500 donation to charity will go to the Boys and Girls Club of New Britain.
Events at Army, Baylor, Canisius, Delaware, Georgia, Green Bay, Kansas State, Maryland Eastern Shore, Navy, Sacramento State and Stanford produced sell-out crowds. Sixty-nine programs surpassed their single-game attendance highs from last year.
"In the fifth year of this initiative, we are pleased to see the continued increase in attendance, excitement and exposure for our women's basketball programs," said Greg Christopher, chair of the Division I Women's Basketball Committee and director of athletics at Bowling Green State University. "The year-in and year-out success of Pack the House is a direct tribute to the commitment level put forth by the personnel at each campus. These efforts continue to help grow the game."
The ideas to market the games were as diverse as the membership itself.
At Central, for example, students were able to win an Apple iPod, which was raffeled off at half time. Also, the dorm with the highest attendance at the game received a free pizza party. The final step of Central's plan was inviting our corporate sponsors to attend and support the "Pack the House" Challenge.
"I am extremely pleased that we have been selected as the NEC's "Pack the House" Champion for the second consecutive year," said Director of Athletics Paul Schlickmann. "It says a great deal about the job our marketing staff does and the support that we get from Blue Devil fans on campus and in the community. As a department, going forward, we will look to remain on the front line in the advancement of women's collegiate athletics through programs like "Pack the House".
Winners of the 2011-12 NCAA "Pack the House" Challenge are:
America East – Vermont
Atlantic Coast – Virginia
Atlantic Sun – Florida Gulf Coast
Atlantic 10 – Massachusetts
Big East – Marquette
Big Sky –Sacramento State
Big South – Winthrop
Big Ten – Iowa
Big 12 – Kansas State
Big West – Long Beach State
Colonial – Delaware
Conference USA – Memphis
Great West – New Jersey Institute
Horizon – Green Bay
Ivy – Pennsylvania
Metro Atlantic – Canisius
Mid-American – Central Michigan
Mid-Eastern – Morgan State
Missouri Valley – Missouri State
Mountain West – Air Force
Northeast – Central Connecticut State
Ohio Valley – Did Not Participate
Pacific-12 – California
Patriot – Bucknell
Southeastern – Kentucky
Southern – Georgia Southern
Southland – Sam Houston State
SWAC – Southern University
Summit – Oral Roberts
Sun Belt – South Alabama
West Coast – Portland
WAC – Louisiana Tech
Independents – Longwood
California- Pacific 12