Bowling Green, Ky. — The NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament will return to Bowling Green, Western Kentucky University and E.A. Diddle Arena in 2009.
On Tuesday, the NCAA Division I Women’s Basketball Committee selected 17 additional first- and second-round sites for the 2009 and 2010 Tournaments. The venues were added after the committee announced last summer that the championship would be extended to 16 pre-determined sites beginning in ‘09. It marks the first time the NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament has been played at Diddle Arena since 1995.
“We’re really looking forward to putting our best foot forward and giving women’s basketball fans in the region a chance to come out to Diddle Arena and see top-notch, championship basketball,” said WKU Director of Athletics Dr. Wood Selig. “This is a very unique opportunity for WKU to be able to showcase our great arena, as well our entire university, on a national stage.”
E.A. Diddle Arena has a long history of hosting NCAA Women’s Tournament games. In fact, this will mark the eighth time that WKU has hosted first- and second-round games. In addition to the 1995 event, games in the opening two rounds of the tournament were played at Diddle Arena in 1985, 1986, 1989, 1991, 1992 and 1993. WKU was also the site of the 1985 Mideast Regional.
Bowling Green has also hosted a total of six games in the NCAA Men’s Tournament — two first-round games in 1965 and four first- and second-round contests in 1980.
“This is a wonderful opportunity for Western Kentucky University, and it’s very exciting for our women’s basketball program,” said Lady Topper head coach Mary Taylor Cowles. “This selection shows, more than anything, the commitment of our administration to go after something like this that brings a tremendous amount of exposure to our university and basketball program.”
Originally opened in 1964, E.A. Diddle Arena underwent a $33 million renovation in 2002. Included in the renovations were a new playing floor, all-new seating, two “Pepsi Vision” video boards and 16 luxury suites. An addition was also added to the back side of the arena which houses new training and weight rooms, as well as a 30,000-square foot auxiliary gym complex which contains two regulation basketball courts with a firewall divider. New locker rooms and office facilities were also added for multiple sports and the WKU athletic administration.
“We are excited to be selected as a host site for the 2009 NCAA Division I Women’s Basketball Championships first- and second-round games,” said WKU President Dr. Gary Ransdell. “The recent renovation of Diddle Arena puts our facility at the forefront among college sports venues. That, coupled with the long and rich history in women’s basketball at WKU, makes our selection a great fit for one of the NCAA’s biggest events.”
In addition to its history of hosting NCAA Basketball Tournament games, E.A. Diddle Arena has also played host to several Sun Belt Conference Basketball and Volleyball Tournaments, as well as the Kentucky High School Athletic Association Girls’ Sweet Sixteen Basketball Tournament.
Joining WKU and Bowling Green as 2009 first- and second-rounds sites will be Albuquerque, N.M., Iowa City, Iowa, Baton Rouge, La., Lubbock, Texas, Notre Dame, Ind., Chattanooga, Tenn., Los Angeles, Calif., College Park, Md., Piscataway, N.J., Columbus, Ohio, San Diego, Calif., Duluth, Ga., Seattle, Wash., East Lansing, Mich., and Storrs, Conn.