SWAC Basketball Tournament Tips Off in Garland

35,000 expected at tournament

By Tammy Mutasa
|  Wednesday, Mar 7, 2012  |  Updated 6:40 PM CDT
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March 6 through 10 Garland's special events center is home to the Southwestern Athletic Conference Basketball Tournament.

Tammy Mutasa, Garland Reporter

March 6 through 10 Garland's special events center is home to the Southwestern Athletic Conference Basketball Tournament.

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Garland is playing host to a number of basketball teams from historically black colleges and universities for the second year.

The city and tournament organizers expect to see 35,000 fans from North Texas and across the country to attend the Southwestern Athletic Conference Basketball Tournament.

Ten women's and eight men's teams will play in the tournament this week. The winners advance to the NCAA Tournament.

Garland said the tournament, which moved from Shreveport, La., to Garland last year, is a slam dunk for the city.

"It brings dollars to the economy is what it does for not only the Special Events Center, but for the city of Garland," said John Wilborn, general manager of the Garland Special Events Center. "This game would generate somewhere between $3 [million] to $7 million for the local economy."

SWAC Commissioner Duer Sharp said he envisions keeping the tournament in Garland.

"It's a great place to grow," he said. "It --Dallas -- it is the No. 2 city for SWAC alumni, with Atlanta at No. 1, so you have Dallas, you have the natural draw with alumni."

And the event is more than hoops. Among other events, the tournament also runs a college expo. Last year, SWAC universities gave out $175,000 in scholarships.

"We're stressing today, in conjunction with playing basketball, is listen," said Kenyatta D. Simmons, Prairie View A&M recruiter. "Beyond sports, there's a whole world of academia out there that's essential to what you need to do to be successful in life."

The expo motivated Lancaster High School student Ebony Arrington to apply to Mississippi Valley College on Wednesday.

"I am very excited," she said. "It's like a free opportunity somebody has given me, and you need education for the future."

Bussey Middle School students were getting an early start.

"A lot of kids should be here and see all the colleges and get a head start on their careers," said Michaela Lohmar.

The College Expo goes until Thursday. The tournament runs until Saturday. The SWAC Super Saturday event from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., which features a battle of the bands, step show, slam dunk contest and more, is free of charge.

More: The Farmers Insurance 2012 SWAC Basketball Tournament

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