The City of Erie and Gannon University will be in the national spotlight in March of 2014. The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) has awarded the 2014 Division II Women’s Basketball Elite Eight to Erie, with Gannon University serving as the host.
Gannon will host the event at the Erie Insurance Arena which is in the midst of a $42 million renovation and expansion that is expected to be completed in the fall of 2013. The renovation will add 2,000 seats, 13 suites, a club level, and many other amenities more commonly found in major market venues.
The 2014 NCAA Division II Women’s Basketball Elite Eight will kick off with the national quarterfinals on Tuesday, March 25. The national semifinals are scheduled for Wednesday, March 26 and the NCAA Division II Championship Game will be Friday, March 28.
The national championship event will feature the winners of the nation’s eight regions. This year’s event will be held in San Antonio, Texas, for the second consecutive season and third time in the last five years.
“We are extremely excited to get this opportunity to showcase Gannon University, the City of Erie and the entire region to the nation,” said Gannon Director of Athletics Mark Richard. “A large number of people at Gannon and throughout Erie helped put this bid together and we are very grateful for their time and effort. It’s an honor to be able to host one of the premier NCAA Division II national events.
“Everyone is extremely excited to show the greatness of Gannon, the City of Erie and the entire region. With the national championship game being televised on ESPN, it will allow viewers from around the country to see a first-class event in a first-class city at a first-class facility like Erie Insurance Arena.”
Gannon University and the City of Erie have a strong tradition of rabid support for basketball. Most recently, the Gannon women’s basketball team packed the University’s Hammermill Center throughout the 2010 NCAA Division II Atlantic Regional. Following near-capacity crowds during the first two rounds, a sold-out crowd witnessed the Lady Knights win the regional championship and advance to the Elite Eight, held that year in Missouri. It was believed to be the first collegiate women’s basketball sell-out in the history of the region.
In 2009, Gannon hosted the NCAA Division II Men’s Basketball Atlantic Regional. Teams battled for the title in front of sold-out crowds during each of the three nights. The Golden Knights eventually won the regional en route to the Elite Eight.
Gannon also hosted the 2011 NCAA Division II Wrestling Super Regional One at the Carneval Athletic Pavilion with great success in addition to hosting numerous Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC) postseason events over the years.
A member of the PSAC and the NCAA Division II Atlantic Region, Gannon sponsors 18 NCAA varsity sports with nearly 400 student-athletes. Fifteen of the school’s 18 programs competed in the postseason last year with five advancing to the NCAA Division II postseason.
Academically, the entire student-athlete population produced a combined 3.21 grade-point average during the 2012 spring semester. Sixty-six percent of the students playing sports at Gannon achieved a 3.0 GPA or better. The nine women’s intercollegiate teams produced a combined 3.35 GPA. In fact, all nine teams achieved a team GPA of 3.11 or better. The nine men’s intercollegiate teams produced a combined 3.06 GPA.