JACKSON, Tenn. - 11/14/2005 - The Jackson Rotary Club will host their 12th annual Jackson Rotary Classic starting this Thursday, November 17 and running through Saturday, November 19. And for the third straight season, Union University’s Fred DeLay Gymnasium will be the site.
This year’s Rotary Classic will feature six women's basketball teams, five of which are ranked in the NAIA Women’s Basketball Preseason Top-9, including four of the top five teams. Participating teams will be No. 2 Freed-Hardeman University (Tenn.), No. 3 Oklahoma Christian University, No. 4 Union University (Tenn.), No. 5 The Master’s College (Calif.), No. 9 Southern Nazarene University (Okla.), and Lambuth University (Tenn.).
In 2003, the Rotary Classic expanded from four teams to six teams and changed locations from the downtown Jackson Oman Arena to the campus of Union University. Since that time, the amount of money raised from the classic, which goes to benefit local charities and high school student scholarships, has increased by leaps and bounds.
Just like in past years, this classic will feature some of the top women’s basketball programs in the NAIA. Southern Nazarene ranks first in the NAIA with 56 total national tournament wins. Union is second in total wins with 38 national tournament victories. In number of total national tournament appearances, only one team (Wayland Baptist-19) has more that Union’s 16 appearances. Southern Nazarene is in a tie for third place with 15 total appearances. Over the past 12 years (since 1994), Southern Nazarene and Union have combined for eight national titles (SNU-6, Union-2). Both teams have accounted for the past three NAIA National Titles (SNU-2003, 2004; Union-2005).
The six participating teams in the 2005 Jackson Rotary Classic have a very impressive combined national tournament history. The teams have combined for 58 appearances (Union-16, SNU-15, Oklahoma Christian-10, FHU-9, Lambuth-4, The Master’s-4), 119 wins (SNU-56, Union-38, FHU-11, Oklahoma Christian-9, Lambuth-3, The Master’s-2), 49 loses (Union-14, Oklahoma Christian-10, Freed-Hardeman-9, SNU-8, Lambuth-4, The Master’s-4), nine national titles (SNU-7, Union-2), three second place finishes (Union-2; SNU-1), and seven third place finishes (SNU-4, Union-2, FHU-1).
The Sooner Athletic Conference has been the premier conference in the nation over the past several years. In the past 12 seasons, the Sooner Athlete Conference has boasted 10 of the 12 national championship teams, with a team from the conference making the championship game in all 12 seasons. This year, Oklahoma Christian is picked to finish first in the Sooner Athlete Conference with Southern Nazarene tabbed to finish third.
Last season, the TranSouth Athletic Conference stepped up as the dominate conference in the national tournament, as three of the league’s teams made the final eight and Union taking the crown. This season, Freed-Hardeman is picked to win the league while Union was voted second.
Another conference on the rise in women’s basketball is the Golden State Athletic Conference. Last season, two teams from the GSAC advanced to the elite eight. This season, the GSAC has the No. 1 rated team in the land (Vanguard) and the No. 5 ranked team in The Master’s. The Master’s is voted by the GSAC coaches to finish second behind Vanguard this season in the conference standings.
Lambuth University is playing in the always tough MidSouth Conference for the final season. Next year, Lambuth will be re-joining Union and Freed-Hardeman in the TranSouth Conference. Lambuth is picked to finish sixth in the MidSouth that features national tournament teams such as Georgetown and Campbellsville.
This tournament has proven to be a big measuring stick early in the NAIA women’s basketball season. With the new NAIA National Polls will be released on Dec. 7, this tournament will have a big impact on the new Top-25. The Rotary Classic has become a national tournament preview in November. Last season’s national title game between Union and Oklahoma City was a rematch of a game played in the Rotary Classic when Union topped the Stars in that game as well. Who knows, this year’s Rotary Classic could give us another preview of a national title game. However, when the 32-team field comes to Jackson in March for the 2006 NAIA National Tournament, you can bet these teams will be right in the mix.
Thursday, Nov. 17
4:00 pm: Union vs. Oklahoma Christian
6:00 pm: Freed-Hardeman vs. The Master's
8:00 pm: Lambuth vs. Southern Nazarene
Friday, Nov. 18
5:00 pm: Lambuth vs. Oklahoma Christian
7:00 pm: Union vs. The Master's
9:00 pm: Freed-Hardeman vs. Southern Nazarene
Saturday, Nov. 19
5:00 pm: Freed-Hardeman vs. Oklahoma Christian
7:00 pm: Lambuth vs. The Master's
9:00 pm: Union vs. Southern Nazarene
Jackston Rotary Classic (Schedule/Results)
Phone: (731) 661-5027
Fax: (731) 661-5182