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Campus at heart of NCAA finals

March 31, 2015

Indianapolis will become the center of the college basketball universe this week, thanks to the 2015 NCAA Final Four at Lucas Oil Stadium, and IUPUI students, athletes, faculty and staff are going to find themselves in the middle of the action.

Due to its proximity to Lucas Oil Stadium and White River State Park, IUPUI will make some parking available to visitors this weekend. Some students will work at the Fan Fest in the Indiana Convention Center. IUPUI athletes and staff may help provide manpower needs for Final Four events as part of IUPUI’s role as an official co-host of NCAA championship events.

Lucas Oil Stadium

Lucas Oil Stadium will be the center of the college basketball universe Saturday through Monday for the men’s NCAA Final Four. | IU COMMUNICATIONS PHOTO

The NCAA is collaborating with IUPUI and other central Indiana colleges and university campuses on a tree-planting initiative in pursuit of combined sustainability goals. And students from the IUPUI-based National Sports Journalism Center have covered early tournament games in Louisville and Cleveland, and will be on hand to cover the finals at Lucas Oil.

Parking

As the NCAA men’s basketball tournament returns to Indianapolis, White River State Park will be hosting the March Madness Music Festival during the weekend, April 3 to 6. In collaboration with its partners at the NCAA, IUPUI will make some parking available for visitors attending the festivities (Friday through Sunday only). Lots 83 (450 N. Blackford St.), 85 (450 N. Blackford St.), 73 (625 W. North St.) and 92 (655 N. Blackford St.) on the east end of campus will be closed beginning at 10 p.m. Thursday, April 2, until Monday morning, April 6, when normal parking will resume. Accommodations have been made in the Gateway Garage for permit holders who normally park in these lots.

Physical Education and Tourism Management

IUPUI’s Fan Fest workers come from a sports management class in the School of Physical Education and Tourism Management led by faculty member Dave Pierce. Fan Fest is open until 8 p.m. Friday through Monday, and opens at noon each day except Saturday, when it opens at 10 a.m. The event features autograph sessions with coaches and former players, daily youth clinics and interactive sports opportunities from basketball to lacrosse and more.

Tourism, convention and event management students are helping organize a Final Four volunteer celebration party, and also helping stage the National Basketball Coaches Association’s annual meeting.

Intercollegiate Athletics

Several IUPUI athletes and staff from the Department of Intercollegiate Athletics have been working on the Final Four for more than a year as part of the campus’s role as an official co-host of NCAA-sponsored championship events.

IUPUI athletes and staff may work behind the scenes at NCAA events during the finals. In past years, Jaguars basketball players have served as stand-ins for CBS basketball experts, following their directions in order to illustrate plays and defenses that will be used in Final Four games. Department staff members are likely to work on game management, media support and other fulfilling other manpower needs.

National Sports Journalism Center

National Sports Journalism Center director Malcolm Moran said two students covered the two rounds of this year’s NCAA tournament in Louisville and two more covered Midwest Regional games in Cleveland. At the finals, three NSJC students will have an opportunity to rub elbows with top-flight sports journalists from places like ESPN, Sports Illustrated, The New York Times and more media outlets.

“Our students have an opportunity to see how leaders in our profession cover games and practices, watch and hear how they handle pre- and post-game interviews, follow up questions, and then check out the subsequent stories to see how that work was put into practice,” Moran said.

The National Sports Journalism Center, a part of the School of Liberal Arts, is collaborating with the U.S. Basketball Writers Association on a sports writing seminar and a writing competition that includes a $1,000 scholarship.

Moran will moderate a panel discussion at this year’s seminar, featuring Dana O’Neil of ESPN.com, Pat Forde of Yahoo Sports, Nicole Auerbach of USA Today and Jim O’Connell of The Associated Press.

To Moran, the event is part of “a great introduction to the business. Students get to talk to people in the field and hear from them about the barriers they’ll have to navigate. You can’t teach passion, and this event generates that.”

Student stories on the tournament will be posted on the center's website.

Sustainability initiatives

IUPUI is one of six campuses scheduled to receive trees as part of an NCAA tree-planting event today and Wednesday, along with Butler University, Franklin College, the University of Indianapolis, Marian University and Ivy Tech State College. IUPUI will plant four swamp white oaks between one of the NCAA’s buildings and Eskenazi Hall (the Herron School of Art and Design), in an area designated Celebration Plaza.

IUPUI’s Office of Sustainability and the Student Sustainability Council are working with the NCAA Men’s Final Four sustainability committee to collect bottle caps through April 30. The project, in line with IUPUI’s “Year of Recycling” effort, encourages people to recycle with a purpose and also supports the NCAA’s “Recycling to the Final Four” legacy projects. The NCAA will donate the collected plastic caps to Green Tree Plastics, located in Evansville. It takes 400 pounds of caps to build one plastic bench, and the benches will go to Indianapolis area middle and elementary schools as “buddy benches” to help people discourage bullying.

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