If the city’s proposed $24 million recreation center in northwest Lawrence becomes a huge draw for regional and national youth sporting tournaments, it won’t be because Bill Self or Kansas University officials put their marketing power behind it.
Officials at KU confirmed that NCAA rules will not allow the athletics department to become involved in promoting the proposed center.
“We can’t be involved with that at all,” Jim Marchiony, an associate athletic director for KU, said of promoting the city facility.
That is different from what city officials once thought.
“I know when we were first thinking about this project, I thought Bill Self could make a call and land us ‘X’ number of tournaments,” said City Commissioner Hugh Carter. “We know now that is not how it works, but we’ll still have a lot of synergy with KU basketball.”
Carter said the recent announcement that the original rules of basketball will be housed in Lawrence will be a major drawing card for regional and national tournaments.
Mayor Bob Schumm said he still thinks KU will be a major asset to the success of the city’s fieldhouse, even if the university can’t be directly involved in marketing the facility.
As proposed, the 50-acre recreation complex at the northwest corner of Sixth Street and the South Lawrence Trafficway will include the city-operated recreation center and a university-operated track and field stadium and soccer field.
“They’ll be mutually exclusive, but I think the fact we will have the notoriety of having our facility adjacent to KU’s facility will help elevate our stature with people who are thinking about bringing tournaments here,” Schumm said.
NCAA officials have become extremely interested in how universities interact with youth basketball tournaments. In 2011, the NCAA passed regulations that prohibit AAU and other similar youth basketball tournaments from being hosted at university facilities.
NCAA leaders had expressed concern that the on-campus tournaments gave some universities a recruiting advantage.
But the new regulations also state youth basketball tournaments can’t be held on off-campus facilities that are regularly used for practice or competition by any of the university’s sports programs.
KU will be using the track and field stadium and soccer field for its KU teams. That had created a question of whether the NCAA would declare the entire 50-acre sports complex — including the youth fieldhouse — off limits to youth basketball tournaments.
Marchiony, though, said KU officials have reviewed the regulations and are highly confident they will present no issues for the fieldhouse. He said the NCAA would not view the fieldhouse as an off-campus facility of KU because the university has no plans to use the fieldhouse.
An official with the NCAA on Friday said he wasn’t in a position to comment on the specifics of the Lawrence situation because several of the NCAA’s experts on the rules weren’t available.