Central Connecticut State University was one of 33 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 were named. Selections were 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 pack the house, they did. More than half of the Division I membership - 178 institutions - participated in the effort that attracted more than 554,000 fans.
Central hosted 1,824 fans in Detrick Gym for its 46-41 victory over Hartford to open the season on November 12, 2010.
Events at Army, Baylor, Duke, Gonzaga, Louisville, Marist, Michigan State, Navy, Oregon and Pacific produced sell-out crowds. Sixty-nine programs surpassed their single-game attendance highs from last year.
"We believe this initiative has served as a catalyst to increase attendance, create excitement and enhance exposure for our women's basketball programs," said NCAA Vice President of Division I Women's Basketball Sue Donohoe. "Institution personnel committed a great deal of time, effort and resources to this program and the results were extremely positive. This program provides great 'best practices' and examples of success for institutions that are seeking to 'grow' women's basketball and these success stories will continue to strengthen efforts in the future."
The ideas to market the games were as diverse as the membership itself. At Central, Assistant Athletic Director Steve Villanti and his team attracted students with a series of giveaways. CCSU students received free music downloads and Blue Devil shirts. Coca-Cola assisted the Blue Devils with free products to giveaway and by sponsoring a halftime half-court shot contest, with the prize of a mountain bike.
"What a great opening night it was! Beating Hartford and breaking our attendance record," said Coach Beryl Piper. "Winning the Pack the House Challenge is a tribute to our fan support this past season as well as our administration who worked hard to organize the event."
Winners of the 2010-11 NCAA "Pack the House" Challenge are:
America East - Binghamton University
Atlantic Coast - Duke
Atlantic Sun - Florida Gulf Coast
Atlantic 10 - Rhode Island
Big East - Louisville
Big Sky -Sacramento State
Big South - Gardner-Webb
Big Ten - Michigan State
Big 12 - Kansas State
Big West - Pacific
Colonial - Old Dominion
Conference USA - Houston
Great West - Utah Valley
Horizon - Green Bay
Ivy - Pennsylvania
Metro Atlantic - Marist
Mid-American - Central Michigan
Mid-Eastern - South Carolina State
Missouri Valley - Wichita State
Mountain West - Air Force
Northeast - Central Connecticut State
Ohio Valley - Eastern Illinois
Pacific-10 - Oregon
Patriot - Army
Southeastern - Auburn
Southern - Samford
Southland - Texas State
SWAC - Jackson State
Summit - Oral Roberts
Sun Belt - Western Kentucky
West Coast - San Francisco
WAC - Louisiana Tech
Independents - Longwood
Marist - Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference