HOLLAND -- Four months ago the Hope College Flying Dutch brought home the 2006
national championship trophy in women's basketball.
Now the Flying Dutch will get an opportunity to bring home the entire national
The NCAA has selected Hope to host the 2008 and 2009 Division III women's
basketball semi-finals and championship game at the college's new DeVos
"Hope College is extremely delighted to be given the privilege of hosting a
national event of this caliber for the NCAA. They have entrusted a major
championship to our care, and we are confident that with the outstanding
quality of our new DeVos Fieldhouse, the commitment of Hope College personnel and the support of the Holland community, we can deliver an unfortgettable experience
for those student-athletes who earn the right to come here to play for a national title," said Eva Dean Folkert, Hope's director of women's athletics.
"The experience we garnered from hosting the Division III swimming and diving
national championships at the Holland Aquatic Center in 2005, and the success
with which those championships were organized and executed, gave Hope and
Holland much credibility in its ability to spotlight major NCAA events. Now,
with the opening of the DeVos Fieldhouse and with the large, enthusiastic
women's basketball crowds who fill that arena, we plan to continue a tradition
of creating first-rate championship experiences on behalf of the NCAA and the
"Hope and Holland basketball fans are undoubtedly the best in the country, and
we know they will embrace this event because these are young women playing
college basketball at a high level. We just have to look to last season's
success of our own Hope women's team to prove that. Coach Brian Morehouse and
his team played some of the most outstanding basketball the national
tournament has ever seen in Springfield, Mass. It is exciting to know that now
that kind of talent will be coming to Hope and Holland, Mich. Basketball fans
of all ages will surely be privileged to watch these championships for 2008
The three-week long tournament featuring 64 of the nation's top Division III
teams will culminate in Holland with the final four on March 21-22, 2008 and
March 20-21, 2009.
The submission of Hope's bid to host the tournament was a coordinated effort
by the college, the Holland Area Visitors and Convention Bureau, the City
of Holland and the Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association (MIAA).
Known for its hospitality, the Holland community is recognized nationally as
one of America's "Distinctive Destinations." There are approximately 1,350
hotel rooms within a ten-minute drive of the DeVos Fieldhouse.
When Hope hosted the 2005 swimming/diving championships it was estimated that
the direct economic impact on the Holland community (hotels, restaurants,
retail businesses) from the athletes, coaches, families and fans exceeded $1
million, according to Sally Laukitis, executive director of the Holland Area
Convention and Visitors Bureau.
The championship will be played at the state-of-the-art 3,400-seat DeVos
Fieldhouse. The facility features amenities that will provide the NCAA with
an outstanding venue for players and their fans.
The DeVos Fieldhouse opened for the 2005-06 season. The Flying Dutch, who
ended the season with a 30-game winning streak and 33-1 record, were 14-0 at
DeVos. Ironically, none of the team's six NCAA tournament games were played
at DeVos as the Flying Dutch were always the lower-seeded team in their
national championship run. Hope averaged more than 1,300 fans per home game.
Officials Division III attendance figures for 2005-06 have not been announced
by the NCAA, but Hope's average of 1,329 fans surpassed the average home
attendance in a season by any Division III team since the data was first
gathered in the 1980s.
This will be the second time that Hope has been selected to host the finals of
the Division III women's basketball championships. The Flying Dutch hosted
the final four at the Holland Civic Center en route to winning the 1990
national championships. Back then one of the remaining four teams was
selected to host the championship weekend with just days notice. The NCAA
moved to a pre-determined site eight years ago in order to enhance the
championship experience for the athletes, coaches and fans.
The 2006 championship weekend was hosted by Springfield College in
Springfield, Mass. and will return there next March. Previous sites were
located in Indiana, Virginia and Connecticut.
The college's Haworth Inn and Conference Center will serve as the official
tournament headquarters. Participating teams and their fans will be hosted
at Holland area lodging establishments. An organizing committee will be formed
in the coming months.
This will be the fourth NCAA national championship to be hosted by Hope
College. In addition to the swimmming and diving championships (2005) and
women's basketball finals (1990), Hope hosted the Division III cross country
finals for men and women in 1987.