Missouri Valley works to strengthen Q-C ties
When the Missouri Valley Conference chose to hold its preseason women’s basketball tipoff event in the Quad-Cities this September, the reason was twofold.
Commissioner Jeff Jackson said the growth of the sport within the conference was a primary factor in separating the event from the men’s basketball preseason it will continue to hold in St. Louis.
Jackson also said the decision signals the Missouri Valley’s commitment to the Quad-Cities and Hoops in the Heartland, the conference’s postseason women’s basketball tournament which has been held at the TaxSlayer Center in Moline annually since 2016.
“The important part of our decision to remain in Moline is about the interaction and the support we get from Moline and the Quad-Cities community. That’s what gives the tournament an opportunity to be successful,’’ Jackson said Thursday.
“We are doubling, tripling, quadrupling our efforts in that community to create the type of environment and the type of attachment to even improve upon the success the Missouri Valley Conference women’s championship has been having. We’re anxious to see where that leads us because it’s a great community, a great opportunity, a great building. There are great people there.’’
Jackson experienced Hoops in the Heartland for the first time in March during his first year as the conference’s commissioner.
“From what I saw in my first time in that part of the country to watch women’s basketball, it has the potential to be a fantastic atmosphere,’’ Jackson said.
Toward the objective of growing the tournament next March, the Missouri Valley announced last week it will hold its preseason women’s basketball tipoff event on Sept. 14 at the TaxSlayer Center.
A pair of six-team media sessions involving the head coach and at least two basketball players from each university in the conference will be held in the morning and afternoon.
Missouri Valley coaches and their student-athletes will also participate in community service activities that day in the Quad-Cities and will take part in a luncheon celebrating the 50th anniversary of Title IX.
Jackson said the decision to split the women’s tipoff event from the men’s event is a reflection of the growth of women’s basketball within the Missouri Valley Conference, one of seven conferences at the Division I level to hold its postseason women’s tournament at a neutral site.
“We really want to do the best we can to give our women athletes the best student-athlete experience they can receive,’’ Jackson said.
“We felt especially, when you consider the esteem that women’s basketball has in the Missouri Valley Conference, the success our teams have had, they can handle it on their own, earning the notoriety and publicity that they receive.’’
Jackson said the fall celebration of Title IX and the first standalone Missouri Valley women’s basketball media day will be followed by a continued celebration at the expanded Hoops in the Heartland tourney in the spring.
Conference newcomers Belmont, Illinois-Chicago and Murray State will make the 2023 tournament a 12-team event.
“It’s an exciting time for us, something, that in many ways they’ve earned, and we want to make sure our women’s student-athletes have a grand experience,’’ Jackson said.
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