Real college hoops in China for next season

Updated: 2014-03-18 11:01

By Jack Freifelder in New York (China Daily USA)

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Two men's college basketball teams - the University of Texas at Austin and the University of Washington in Seattle (UW) - have announced plans to play a regular season game in China in 2015, which will mark the first time a major US sports league has hosted anything other than an exhibition match in the world's second-largest economy.

The game, scheduled for an ESPN broadcast on Nov 14, 2015 (Nov 13 in the US), is an offshoot of the Pac-12's Globalization Initiative, with the hopes that this event will become an annual component of the Pac-12 men's basketball season.

Pacific-12 Conference Commissioner Larry Scott announced the news in a statement on Saturday, saying his conference's universities are "proud to be pioneers in China".

"This event is a great step forward for our initiative designed to use sport and cultural exchange to support the international strategies that many universities have embarked on to extend their reach into China," Scott said. "Beyond expanding our universities' presence in China, these tours are transformative educational experiences for our student-athletes."

Scott Woodward, director of athletics at UW, said the conference's "innovative addition" would provide student-athletes a "unique bonding experience" early on in the 2014-2015 campaign.

"The event offers an excellent forum to showcase the university and connect with Washington alumni in China," Woodward said.

Since launching the globalization program in 2011, the conference has sent a number of collegiate teams to China for competitive exhibitions and clinics, including men's basketball teams from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) and Arizona State University (ASU).

This week in Las Vegas, the Pac-12 also hosted a delegation from the Federation University Sports China (FUSC), China's national organization for university sports under the operation of the Ministry of Education, at the second annual US-China Symposium on Collegiate Sports Development.

Steve Patterson, the athletic director at Texas, is familiar with this program given that he brought the ASU men's basketball team to China in 2013 as part of the conference's global initiative.

Patterson was hired for his new post in November, but broadening the appeal of the Texas Longhorns brand is priority No 1 for the first-year athletic director.

"This will be a great educational experience for our student-athletes and another opportunity to strengthen the university's brand in the world's most populous country," Patterson said.

Scott, the Pac-12 commissioner, also said that the conference would send a Pac-12 All-Star team to China in August 2014 to play a handful of exhibition games against Chinese professional and university teams.

(China Daily USA 03/18/2014 page2)