The Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference has started to lay the groundwork to host scholastic basketball events for both boys and girls, likely in June.
There are still many unanswered questions regarding when and where the events will be held and how much fees will be for both participants and coaches, but after sitting on the sidelines this past summer, the CIAC is ready to extend an opportunity for high school basketball players to gain necessary exposure from college basketball coaches.
“We want this to be an optimal experience for kids. We want it to be the best experience for these kids based on their particular sport,” said Glenn Lungarini, the CIAC’s executive director.
The CIAC was one of 31 state governing bodies that chose to take a wait-and-see approach this past June and not hold a showcase. UConn was one of four regional college sites across the country to host one, but that was by invite only. Hamden Hall Country Day ran one for kids in the NEPSAC, not the CIAC.
Lungarini said upon receiving feedback from the state governing bodies that did run showcases, it was all positive enough to move forward.
He said sub-committees are being put together for both the boys and girls event, which the CIAC is choosing to do despite there being “no NCAA request to do at the girls level,” Lungarini said.
A lot of questions will begin to be answered once Lungarini returns from the National Federation of High Schools winter meeting Jan. 3-6 in Austin, Texas. But the event will likely be held on the third or fourth weekend of June next year.
Lungarini said the NCAA prohibits Division I schools hosting these events run by the state governing body — the NCAA wanted it removed from the AAU circuit — and prohibits third-party venues from hosting. That rules out the Mohegan Sun Arena, which has hosted the CIAC finals, both boys and girls, since 2009.
Lungarini said the CIAC has toured both the Floyd Little Athletic Center in New Haven and the Wilton Fieldhouse, two of the state’s larger venues. Lungarini said there is a chance both facilities would be used, one hosting the boys event, the other hosting the girls.
It would either be a one- or two-day event.
“There are kids who may not have that chance to showcase their talent to collegiate coaches,” said Erik Patchkofsky, New Haven’s citywide athletic director. “Hosting it would give our kids an opportunity to participate locally.”
The NCAA requires the event be held in one of five ways: a showcase, a team camp, a jamboree, a metro area event or a multi-state/regional event/hybrid of these models. Lungarini said there likely will be a fee for participants and spectators.
Lungarini did say there would be an educational component involved for all participants. So while some players are competing in front of the coaches, others will be learning in a classroom-type setting.
“We’ll provide education to kids on the NCAA Clearinghouse, the (NCAA) eligibility center, what the recruiting process looks like and the difference between an official visit and an unofficial visit,” Lungarini said. “The NCAA did it that way in July at UConn. … the NCAA has been willing to come out and run those sessions, so we can have that option.”
Lungarini wants to have a site selected by the end of January, and the committees in place by that time to start the process of how players will be selected. Then the CIAC can set admission fees and how many officials will be needed to work the games.
“I felt we should do something. We’ve now done the research and understand how the process will value and benefit Connecticut high school students,” Lungarini said. “From the CIAC’s perspective, we always have to operate in the best interest of kids. The event has to be sanctioned through the national federation of high schools. If not, Division I coaches are prohibited from attending.”