America East sticks to game plan, despite conflict

Despite a conflict with the 2009 Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference tournament, the America East Con

All systems are go.

Despite a conflict with the 2009 Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference tournament, the America East

Conference intends to go ahead with its championship event March 6-8 at the University at Albany.

America East originally

announced in May that UAlbany would host its postseason tournament for the first time next season. Earlier this month, the MAAC

announced that it was moving its postseason tournament from New Jersey to the Times Union Center next March 5-9 because of economic concerns at the original site.

America East officials refused to comment on the MAAC tournament changes at the time, but Friday they reaffirmed their commitment to host next season’s event at UAlbany’s SEFCU Arena.

“During our annual presidents’ and athletic directors’ meetings this week, we received updates on our 2009 men’s basketball championship in Albany,” said America East Conference Commissioner Patrick Nero.

“Both groups came away from these meetings confident that we remain on track for a successful championship in March. The concept of having two men’s basketball conference championships in the same city, the same weekend, is a new one.

“While it may present some challenges, we have a very good working relationship with the MAAC, and both conferences will work together to address any issues. We feel having both tournaments on the same weekend will give Capital Region fans the unique opportunity to enjoy several days of NCAA Division I basketball.

“It’s not only a dream weekend for the hoops junkie, but a time for the casual fan to become a big fan and for first-time fans to experience all the excitement of college basketball.”

UAlbany officials continued to make plans for hosting the event even after the MAAC made its announcement about changing the date of its tournament. At the time, UAlbany athletic director Lee McElroy expressed confidence that everythig would work out, and he was even more confident after the America East Conference administrators’ meetings.

“We are pleased the America East Conference membership has made a strong commitment to conduct the 2009 men’s basketball championship at the University at Albany’s SEFCU Arena,” McElroy said.

“The Capital Region is fortunate to have both the America East and Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference championships on the same weekend, where fans can enjoy both tournaments. UAlbany and its department of athletics will continue working toward presenting a first-class event.”

The nine-team America East Conference tournament begins with a first-round game on Friday, March 6, 2009.

Quarterfinal and semifinal games follow on Saturday, March 7 and Sunday, March 8, respectively.

The championship game will be played Saturday, March 14, at the home court of the highest remaining seed and will be televised by ESPN2.

The MAAC Tournament, which now will be held at the Times Union Center for three consecutive years, has a different format than America East. Both the men and the women compete all week at the same site, with the women’s championship game held Sunday, March 8, and the men’s championship game scheduled for Monday, March 9.

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