Da-da-da, da-da-done

Beth Bragg

Like a jilted bride-to-be who keeps her engagement ring, UAA is keeping a little something to remember its two-decades-long relationship with ESPN.

The familiar SportsCenter theme song continues to hold a spot on UAA's playlist. You can hear it frequently this weekend at Sullivan Arena as the clock ticks down before tipoff, and you can hear it when the Seawolves play at the Wells Fargo Sports Complex.

Why so much love for a song identified with a network that took its considerable money and dumped the Shootout this year in favor of its own tournament?

"The students enjoy it," athletic director Steve Cobb said.

Three more years

Forget ESPN. Carrs/Safeway is continuing its romance with the Shootout.

The grocery store chain announced this week that it's extending to 2012 its contract as the title sponsor of the annual tournament. The current contract ends next year.

Cobb said the sponsorship is worth about $200,000 a year -- about one-quarter of the estimated $750,000 it costs to put on the tournament, he said.

Glenn Peterson, a district manager for Carrs/Safeway, said businesses are more mindful than ever how they spend sponsorship dollars because of the global economic crisis, but the Shootout commitment was an easy one to continue.

"Many companies are looking at cutting those dollars in lean times, and we are too," he said. "You have to ask: Does this have value to the company? We believe this does have value. It showcases the community and it puts the university on the national stage."

In memoriam

Maybe you saw the little "LB" patch the UAA women are wearing on the uniform jerseys. The initials pay tribute to Linda Bruns, the former Seawolves coach who established a winning tradition at the school back in the '80s.

Bruns coached UAA to the 1990 championship of the old Northern Lights Invitational, back when the women's tournament was on par with the men's tournament -- an eight-team field that featured seven Division I teams and the Division II Seawolves.

Bruns, who died of cancer Oct. 16 at age 66, coached UAA from 1979-90.

Costly breakup

ESPN ended a two-decade relationship with UAA at the end of last year's Shootout. Over the years, the network paid UAA tens of thousands of dollars for the right to broadcast games. Over the last six years, those fees brought in nearly half a million dollars:


2006 $100,000

2005 ?$90,000

2004 ?$80,000

2003 ?$75,000

2002 ?$70,000

Total $440,000

Source: UAA athletics

Photo blog: The Shootout