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NCAA's love for Oklahoma City is on again

Oklahoma City is about to be inundated with championship events. And the All-Sports Association is going for more
by Jenni Carlson Published: March 29, 2013

The NCAA's love affair with Oklahoma City cooled these past few years.

No men's basketball regionals. No women's basketball regionals. No national championships beyond the Women's College World Series.

We went from having a big-time college sports event every other week — at least it seemed that way — to wondering if we'd done something wrong. Why wasn't the NCAA bringing any events to town? Was our infatuation with the Thunder driving it away? Why didn't it love us anymore?

No need to worry about that now.

This weekend's women's basketball regional at The Peake is the curtain raiser on a banner time for college sports in Oklahoma City. By the end of 2014, four national champions will have been crowned here, not to mention four Big 12 Conference tournament champions.

“This will be the greatest amateur event year that we've had,” Oklahoma City All-Sports Association executive director Tim Brassfield said.

And it might only be the start of another NCAA-OKC lovefest.

But before we get to that, let's look at what we already know is coming to town. There's NCAA women's basketball, Big 12 baseball, NCAA softball, Big 12 women's basketball, NCAA wrestling, Big 12 baseball again, NCAA softball again and NCAA volleyball.

It's an impressive run.

Most impressive is the NCAA championships that are coming to town during 2014. Oklahoma City will have wrestling in March, softball in May and June and volleyball in December. Three national championships all in the same calendar year.

“No other city's ever had that,” Brassfield said.

Obviously, Oklahoma City starts with one championship already in place. The NCAA hasn't given OKC permanent possession of the Women's College World Series, but the softball is a virtual lock to be here for many years to come.

Despite that, it speaks volumes that the NCAA would award the city two more national championships next year.

Wrestling is something of a natural. The sport has deep roots and passionate fans here. That was evident in 2006 when Oklahoma City last hosted the wrestling national championships. Sellout crowds abounded.

But what about volleyball?

This is uncharted territory. Neither the city nor the state is a volleyball hotbed, and yet, the NCAA thought enough of Oklahoma City to award the national championship to the city.

That's a good sign, my friends. It bodes well for Oklahoma City getting even more NCAA events.

Brassfield said that next month, the NCAA will open the bidding on 85 championships. That list will include national championships and regional competitions, and Brassfield said the All-Sports Association intends to go after several of them, including wrestling national championships, rowing national championships and men's basketball regionals.

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by Jenni Carlson
Jenni Carlson, a sports columnist at The Oklahoman since 1999, came by her love of sports honestly. She grew up in a sports-loving family in Kansas. Her dad coached baseball and did color commentary on the radio for the high school football...
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