When the Missouri Valley Conference decided to hold its women’s basketball preseason event in four cities this September, the reasoning was twofold.
Commissioner Jeff Jackson said the sport’s growth in the conference is the main factor separating the event from the preseason men’s basketball tournament, which will be held in St. Louis.
Jackson also said the decision reflects Missouri Valley’s commitment to the Quad Cities and Hope in the Heartland, the conference’s postseason women’s basketball tournament that has been held annually since 2016 at the TaxSlayer Center in Moline.
“A big part of our decision to stay in Moline has to do with the engagement and support we get from Moline and the Quad-Cities community. That’s what gives the tournament a chance to succeed,” Jackson said Thursday.
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“We’re doubling, tripling, quadrupling our efforts in that community to create the type of environment and the type of attachment to improve success in the Missouri Valley Conference women’s championship. Because it’s a great community, a great opportunity, It’s a great building. Great people there.”
Jackson experienced hoops in the Heartland for the first time in March in his first year as conference commissioner.
“From what I saw the first time I was in that part of the country to watch women’s basketball, it has the potential to be a great atmosphere,” Jackson said.
In line with its goal of growing the tournament next March, Missouri Valley announced last week that it will hold its women’s basketball preseason event on Sept. 14 at the TaxSlayer Center.
A pair of six-team media sessions with the presence of the head coach and at least two basketball players from each university will be held in the conference in two shifts, morning and afternoon.
Missouri Valley coaches and their student-athletes will also participate in community service activities that day in four cities and attend a luncheon commemorating the 50th anniversary of Title IX.
Jackson said the decision to separate the women’s tournament from the men’s tournament reflects the growth of women’s basketball in the Missouri Valley Conference, one of seven conferences at the Division I level that holds its women’s postseason tournament at a neutral site.
“We really want to do the best we can to give our female athletes the best student-athletic experience,” Jackson said.
“We feel, especially when you consider the respect that women’s basketball has in the Missouri Valley Conference, the success of our teams, that they can hold their own and earn their reputation.”
Jackson said the fall celebration of the ninth title and Missouri Valley Women’s Basketball’s first stand-alone media day will be followed by an ongoing celebration at the Hoops in the Heartland tournament in the spring.
Conference newcomers Belmont, Illinois-Chicago and Murray State will make the 2023 tournament a 12-team event.
“This is an exciting time for us, something that has been achieved in so many ways, and we want to make sure that female student-athletes have a great experience,” Jackson said.
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