It’s that time again. March Madness brackets seem to be everywhere! College basketball fans enjoy the energy and excitement in a big way.
Right here in City Center, the Atlantic 10 Conference makes its home. It has 14 institutional members and also represents those schools’ student athletes who play 21 different sports. Debbie Richardson, senior associate commissioner, explains that the conference is definitely “basketball-centric.” City Center is a convenient location in the geographic footprint of those 14 schools. “Although we don’t have a retail, foot-traffic kind of presence in City Center, we feel it is important to be part of the Newport News community and give positive visibility. We want to be good business partners with as many local businesses as possible,” Richardson continues.
College sports enthusiasts, especially basketball fans, probably understand the various structures within conferences, divisions and subdivisions of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA). Other Oyster Pointer readers will do well to take at face value that the Atlantic 10 Conference operates within a highly organized national sports structure. “Our commissioner, Bernadette McGlade, has a reputation for putting Atlantic 10 in a position of success in the world of collegiate athletics, ensuring practices that are fair and equitable for the student athletes and their institutions,” says Richardson. “And we are fortunate to have female leadership. Progress is being made in that way,” Richardson adds.
Richardson says her office functions, in many ways, like their sports teams do. There are 16 employees who work together more like family-oriented teammates. The Canon Boulevard office functions include media services, championships, a business department and external operations that include a large number of televised games. “Our teams play in cycles that mirror the academic school year, but there is no rest for us in the summer, when we are very busy planning for the next academic year’s schedules,” Richardson says.
The Atlantic 10 Conference website makes it clear that it is not just about March Madness:
“The Atlantic 10 Conference, with a total population of more than 76.5 million people within its geographic footprint of eight states and the District of Columbia, will crown champions in 21 sports this year: baseball, men’s and women’s basketball, men’s and women’s cross country, field hockey, men’s golf, women’s lacrosse, men’s and women’s indoor and outdoor track and field, women’s rowing, men’s and women’s soccer, softball, men’s and women’s swimming and diving, men’s and women’s tennis and women’s volleyball. The presidents and chancellors of Atlantic 10 institutions, in conjunction with Atlantic 10 Commissioner McGlade, have made a strong commitment to making the academic and athletics equation a successful one. Over the years, the league membership has strived to better recognize the academic accomplishments of its student-athletes.”
When asked about the loss of basketball legend Kobe Bryant, Richardson points out that two of the Atlantic 10’s schools are in Philadelphia where Bryant grew up and played high school basketball. Richardson continues, “Bryant was an icon who impacted sports and communities at all levels. We hope our student athletes recognize his example.”
TO THE POINT:
Atlantic 10 Conference
Address: 11827 Canon Blvd., Ste. 200, Newport News, VA 23606
Contacts: Bernadette McGlade, commissioner
Debbie Richardson, senior associate commissioner
Drew Dickerson, assistant commissioner