Both the Slippery Rock men’s and women’s basketball teams’ exhibition games this season provide both experience for the student athletes against Division I opponents, as well as guaranteed money to each program.
The men’s team faced the University of Tennessee and Central Michigan University before the season started, and the women’s team will face the University of Pittsburgh on Wednesday.
These games provide two major things for each of the programs. The first is experience the players get by playing in the big arenas. The second is well various amounts of money paid for by those schools to allow the teams to play, said SRU Athletic Director Paul Lueken.
“The money we earn from the games can go to scholarships, and expenses that the rest of our budget doesn’t meet,” Lueken said. “The main thing is that it’s a great experience. These games are all exhibitions so they don’t count on our record, so that’s a good thing.”
The women’s game against Pitt next week will provide $8,000 to the program, Lueken said. The men’s game against Tennessee was $20,000, which was paid last year to the school. The game was just delayed a full year, and it does cost a bit to get down there so that figured into the expenses, Lueken said. The Central Michigan game was $5,000, which isn’t as much as the others, but is still a good experience, Lueken said.
The men’s team lost to both Tennessee (83-48) and Central Michigan (91-74) this year and the women lost to Indiana University (98-33) in an exhibition game last year.
“I definitely think the players enjoy these games, Lueken said. “You get to play in a bigger arena with bigger crowds, and that big-time Division I basketball feel to it. We’ve played at Michigan, Pitt, Penn State, West Virginia and all those are fun places to play at.”
Morrow Field House, where The Rock plays home games, has a maximum capacity listed at 3,000 spectators for a basketball game, while Thompson Boling Arena in Tennessee seats 20,000, McGurik Arena at CMU seats 5,300 and the Petersen Events Center in Pittsburgh seats 12,000.
Lueken said that some years are better than others when it comes to scheduling these games. The Division I programs work through the area in a cycle, and it all depends on what is available without schedule conflicts.
“Overall it is a great experience for the players, and it brings in that scholarship money which is always nice,” Lueken said.