And pack the house, they did. Almost two-thirds of the Division I membership - 184 institutions - participated in the effort that attracted more than 559,000 fans.
ETSU hosted 3,459 fans at its women's basketball game on November 21 against nationally-ranked Vanderbilt.
"We believe this initiative has served as a catalyst to increase attendance, create excitement and enhance exposure for our women's basketball programs," said NCAA Vice President of Division I Women's Basketball Sue Donohoe. "Institution personnel committed a great deal of time, effort and resources to this program and the results were extremely positive. This program provides great ‘best practices' and examples of success for institutions that are seeking to ‘grow' women's basketball and these success stories will continue to strengthen efforts in the future."
The ideas to market the games were as diverse as the membership itself.
At ETSU, for example, the marketing department gave its fans an opportunity to win a 2008 Toyota Tundra, courtesy of Phil Bachman Toyota, as well as free gas cards and Lady Buccaneer items. In addition, fans were able to enjoy pregame festivities which included - tailgating (first 200 fans that entered the game received free food), inflatable games and free poster making for children, tailgating games such as Cornhole and Lasso Golf, as well as free giveaways during the game.
"Winning this award has capped off an exciting week for the Lady Bucs," commented ETSU Marketing and Promotions Coordinator Sara Hacker. "First the Lady Bucs punched their ticket to the NCAA Tournament for the second straight year, and now received the top honor for the Pack the House Event in the A-Sun. We couldn't have asked for a better week!"
"The past home season has been very rewarding. The success of the women's basketball team along with assistance from the athletic staff and women's basketball grant team has made this a special year at ETSU. However, we couldn't have won this award without our loyal fan support."
Winners of the 2008-09 NCAA "Pack the House" Challenge are:
Atlantic Sun -
Atlantic 10 - Fordham
Big East - Notre Dame
Big Sky -
Big South - UNC
Big Ten -
Big 12 -
Big West -
Colonial - VCU
Metro Atlantic -
Mountain West - TCU
Northeast - Mount St. Mary's
Patriot - Army
Southeastern - Auburn
Sun Belt - Arkansas-Little Rock
West Coast - Gonzaga