Feb. 13, 2008
NOTRE DAME, Ind. - The University of Notre Dame has been selected as one of eight additional host sites for first- and second-round games in the 2009 NCAA Division I Women's Basketball Championship, it was announced late Tuesday. Games will be played at the 11,418-seat Joyce Center on either March 21 & 23 or March 22 & 24, with exact dates and ticket availability for those contests to be released at a later date.
This week's selection by the NCAA comes on the heels of last summer's announcement that Notre Dame also will host first- and second-round games in the 2010 NCAA Tournament. The addition of '09 tournament games was the result of the NCAA Division I Women's Basketball Committee voting last fall to return the first two rounds of the championship to 16 host sites (four teams per location) in place of the current eight-team, eight-site "pod" format that was introduced in 2005.
"I can't tell you how excited we are to hear that the Joyce Center has been selected as a host site for the 2009 and 2010 NCAA Tournaments," Notre Dame head coach Muffet McGraw said. "Our administration, especially (director of athletics) Kevin White and (associate athletics director) Mike Karwoski, deserve a ton of credit for pushing to make this a reality. It's an advantage in the NCAA Tournament to be playing at home in front of your own fans, and we are extremely fortunate to have the most passionate and loyal fans in the country. This is a great opportunity for our program, our University and the entire South Bend community, and we look forward to making the most of it."
"Our women's basketball team has enjoyed tremendous success in the NCAA Tournament over the years," White noted. "We believe this selection is a fitting and just reward for the hard work and dedication Muffet, her players and her staff have put in to make Notre Dame an elite national power in women's college basketball. We welcome the chance to once again bring the NCAA Tournament spotlight on the Joyce Center and eagerly await the thrills of March Madness on the Notre Dame campus in 2009 and 2010."
Notre Dame has played host to action in the NCAA Women's Basketball Championship five times before, most recently in 2004 when the Irish defeated Southwest Missouri State (now Missouri State) and Middle Tennessee to reach the NCAA regional semifinals (Sweet 16) for the sixth time in program history. Overall, the Joyce Center has been home to NCAA tournament action in 1994, 2000, 2001 and 2004 with Notre Dame advancing to the Sweet 16 on three occasions (2000, 2001, 2004) and going on to win its first NCAA title in `01. All told, the Irish are 6-1 in NCAA Championship play on the Joyce Center hardwood, with the only loss being an 81-76 setback to Minnesota in 1994.
In addition, the 1983 NCAA Mideast Regional was played at the Joyce Center -- Tennessee defeated Ole Miss, 90-83 in overtime and Georgia ousted Indiana, 86-70 in the regional semifinals before UGa earned a trip to the NCAA Women's Final Four with a 67-63 victory over UT.
Notre Dame has been ranked in the Top 20 in the final NCAA attendance standings each of the past six seasons, including an 11th-place finish in 2005-06 (6,601 fans per game), as well as school-record eighth-place showings in both 2001-02 (7,825) and 2002-03 (7,132). This season, the Irish are averaging 7,218 fans per game, good for ninth in the nation (according to the latest weekly unofficial survey taken by the University of Wisconsin Sports Information Department).
The 2009 tournament host selection takes on added significance for Notre Dame, as it will now be one of the first stops on the road to the NCAA Women's Final Four that ends at the Scottrade Center in St. Louis. Previously known as the Savvis Center, that arena was the final destination in Notre Dame's 2001 national championship run, which was capped by a 68-66 win over in-state rival Purdue in the title game. Meanwhile, the 2010 NCAA Women's Final Four will be played at the Alamodome in San Antonio.