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VALLEY/VENTURA COUNTY SPORTS

Northridge Could Not Serve as Host

March 08, 1998|STEVE HENSON | TIMES STAFF WRITER

In an odd scenario that typifies Cal State Northridge's Division I growing pains, a Big Sky Conference title by the men's basketball team would have produced a forfeit.

The champion is supposed to host the conference tournament, but Northridge informed Big Sky officials months ago that it could not do so.

The issue became moot because the Matadors finished seventh. Nevertheless, Northridge's rationale for the decision is revealing.

The host must pay $160,000 to the Big Sky and cover the lodging, meals and travel of each of the six participating teams. Total tab: about $225,000.

The Northridge gym seats only about 2,200, and television broadcast opportunities and corporate sponsorship interests are few.

"Next season, in the same situation, we would host," Northridge Athletic Director Paul Bubb said. "[Northridge President Blenda J. Wilson] understands that this is important in bringing attention to our program."

Northern Arizona, this year's host, will break even financially only because its team reached the final and attendance was high Saturday night.

Last season, Northern Arizona lost about $70,000, partly because Northridge upset the Lumberjacks in the semifinals and the final was poorly attended. However, Northern Arizona did not hesitate to host again after winning a second consecutive conference title.

"It's never been a question from our president or the university," Northern Arizona Athletic Director Steve Holden said. "If we want to play at the Division I level, we have to go ahead and host it. The president wanted to make a statement: we will host it."

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