RICHMOND, Va., Aug. 10, 2011 - Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell on Wednesday unveiled plans for the Governor's Holiday Hoops Classic, a pair of basketball doubleheaders that will match eight state men's basketball teams over two years in an event to benefit Virginia's Food Banks and hosted by the Richmond Coliseum.
The announcement, which was made Wednesday morning on the Coliseum floor, included coaches, athletic directors, mascots and other personnel representing each of the eight participating schools. Those schools are George Mason, Hampton, James Madison, Old Dominion, Richmond, VCU, Virginia and Virginia Tech.
Governor McDonnell remarked, "Virginia has long been home to some of the nation's premier collegiate basketball programs. Virginia teams have appeared in Final Fours, won conference championships and are regularly ranked in national Top 25 polls. Unfortunately, given scheduling constraints and conference affiliations, we too rarely get to witness our in-state teams competing against each other. The "Classic" will change that. In December 2012 and 2013 the Richmond Coliseum will be the site of what are certain to be exciting games, which will allow Virginians to celebrate our great colleges and universities while supporting a great cause, the Commonwealth's Food Banks. I hope the Classic will become a long-lasting Virginia athletic tradition. And, as a father who has had children attend UVa, Virginia Tech, ODU, JMU and VCU, I'm definitely staying neutral in this one!"
Initial plans for the event call for two games each in 2012 and 2013. During the 2012-13 season, Richmond will face George Mason followed by Virginia battling Old Dominion. The 2013-14 season will feature JMU against Hampton in the opener as well as VCU against Virginia Tech in the second game. Exact dates and times for the games will be announced at a later time.
Speaking about the participation of JMU in the "Classic", Governor McDonnell noted, "The Dukes have some of the most loyal fans and best school spirit in the Commonwealth. I look forward to seeing the seats of the Richmond Coliseum covered in purple and gold as James Madison takes on Hampton in the 2013 Governor's Holiday Hoops Classic."
"JMU is excited to be selected as one of the teams participating in the Governor's Hoops Classic for the 2013-14 season," commented JMU Director of Athletics, Jeff Bourne."The opportunity to play an in-state opponent, Hampton, on a neutral court in the greater Richmond area is a wonderful opportunity for our team and for our fans who live in the area. We look forward to the event and the chance for our team to play in front of a capacity crowd in the Richmond Coliseum."
JMU men's basketball head coach Matt Brady added, "It's a great opportunity for all of the basketball fans in the Commonwealth of Virginia to see each of our schools participate at a high level of competition. We're excited at JMU to be able to play on a neutral court against a quality opponent in front of all of the fans of all of the schools in the Commonwealth of Virginia."
Through the end of the 2010-11 season, JMU and Hampton have met only twice on the hardwood. The first meeting occurred at the Richmond Coliseum in December of 1995. In that game, JMU stormed back from a deficit of eight points with seven minutes to go to beat Hampton 88-86 on a James Coleman tip-in at the buzzer. The Dukes also topped the Pirates 89-58 at home the following December in 1996.
The idea for the all-Virginia basketball doubleheader stemmed from an appearance made by then Governor-elect McDonnell on "Sports Phone with Big Al" on ESPN 950AM in Richmond in December 2009. During the segment, host Al Coleman mentioned the Richmond Times-Dispatch basketball tournament that existed from 1976-1991 and regularly brought top Virginia programs to the Coliseum. Coleman noted the broad interest in getting such a tournament back in action, especially given the recent and historical successes of Virginia schools on the court. The "Governor's Holiday Hoops Classic" is the result of that conversation.
Details regarding tickets and exact game times will be released in the spring of 2012 and 2013 for each year's "Classic." Corporations and individuals interested in sponsorship opportunities can email: GovernorsClassic@governor.virginia.gov for additional information.
Virginians can visit http://www.governor.virginia.gov/hoops-classic, to sign up for updates in the months ahead regarding the "Classic."
The "Governor's Holiday Hoops Classic" Matchups
George Mason University vs. University of Richmond (early game)
University of Virginia vs. Old Dominion University (late game)
Hampton University vs. James Madison University (early game)
Virginia Tech vs. Virginia Commonwealth University (late game)