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Our 13,000-seat classroom

12:34 PM  Mar 17th, 2017
by Shannon Shelton Miller

The University of Dayton Arena is the only venue that can tout a 17-year streak of hosting the NCAA men’s basketball tournament. Since 2001, UD Arena has hosted the play-in game (through 2010), first and second round games and the First Four since 2011. The venue has also hosted regional games in the women’s tournament.

Members of the greater Dayton community are guaranteed winners each year, especially University of Dayton students. Because of the arena’s prolific record as a tournament venue, UD students have been able to list NCAA tournament work on their resumes in the relevant experience category, sometimes for four or five consecutive years.

From ticketing to facilities management, students do it all during the NCAA tournament, providing integral support to professional staff who get little sleep in the days leading up to and during the tournament games.

For the last two years, the First Four has also given students the opportunity to integrate the NCAA tournament into their regular classwork. Students from a sports media class in the Department of Sport Management stopped by Tuesday’s media availability and open practices to attend press conferences, observe reporters at work on pregame stories and take in the pregame buzz before that night’s First Four games. The site visit was designed to give students a behind-the-scenes look at sports media from all perspectives — from print, broadcast and online media to athletics communications.

CBS/Turner Sports broadcaster and former NBA/college basketball star Steve Smith concluded the visit by talking with students about his career, including his pregame prep routine. Minutes earlier, he chatted with UC Davis coach Jim Les to get talking points for the game broadcast.

The students left with more insight about media coverage of a national sporting event, and how numerous professionals and student volunteers at each site make it possible. It’s an opportunity University of Dayton students have had the privilege to experience every year without interruption since 2001 at University of Dayton Arena.

Or, as we like to call it for a few days in March, our 13,000-seat classroom.

Click here to read a first-person perspective on the experience from sport management student John Greene.

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