November 20, 2013 | by Kevin Majoros
Expanding horizons
BB&T Classic, basketball, Verizon Center, sports, gay news, Washington Blade

Last year’s BB&T Classic at the Verizon Center. (Photo courtesy BB&T Classic)

Recently added to Team D.C.’s Night OUT series is the Night OUT at the BB&T Classic Basketball Tournament to be held at the Verizon Center Dec. 8 at 1 p.m. The event marks the Night OUT series’ first venture into collegiate sports.

“We think the tournament will offer members of the LGBT community a chance to have a different kind of experience other than a happy hour at a bar,” says Brent Minor, executive director of Team D.C.  “College basketball games have a completely different vibe than professional basketball games.”

The BB&T Classic has been held annually since 1995 and has served over the years to showcase some of the best college basketball programs in the D.C. metro area. This year’s event will be a double header and will feature three local colleges and the Oklahoma Sooners.

Rookie Atlantic 10 Conference members, George Mason University will take on Big 12 Conference powerhouse, Oklahoma, which made its first NCAA Tournament appearance since 2009 last season at March Madness 2013.

In the other game at the Verizon Center, future Big 10 members, the University of Maryland will clash with Atlantic 10 Conference team, George Washington University. The Maryland Terrapins last made it to the season ending NCAA Tournament in 2010.

The BB&T Classic is a fundraiser for the Children’s Charities Foundation and came to fruition after Former U.S. Ambassador Peter Teeley and a group of Washington-area business and professional leaders founded the Children’s Charities Foundation in 1994.

The Children’s Charities Foundation has distributed nearly $9 million to charities in the Washington metropolitan area including the District, Montgomery and Prince George’s Counties in Maryland; Fairfax and Arlington Counties in Virginia and in the city of Alexandria.

In an effort to beef up the spectator numbers of the BB&T Classic, which saw attendance of 10,200 in 2012, the Tournament has applied for “exempt” status within the NCAA. That is, NCAA Bylaw 17.3.5.1.1, also known as the “qualifying regular-season multi-team event.”

An adjustment to the rule governing “exempt” tournaments was created in 2006 allowing up to four games played under the funding of a single multi-team event to count as just one against the NCAA-prescribed maximum of 28 regular-season games. Teams not participating in a multi-team event can play a total of 29 regular season contests.

Teeley is confident that an “exempt” D.C. tournament can draw teams away from exotic locales such as Alaska, Hawaii and Puerto Rico.

“The rich history that Washington, D.C. has to offer is a big draw for college-age kids,” Teeley says. “I am confident that the exempt status will enable us to draw good teams to the area.”

Another popular notion of the multi-team event format is that teams get to play on neutral courts and prepares them for the kind of atmosphere they can expect in the postseason.

The “tip-off” event for the 19th annual BB&T Classic Tournament is the black-tie 2013 BasketBALL Gala, to be held at the Washington Hilton Dec. 7 at 6:30 p.m.

As a special bonus to all Night OUT attendees who buy a ticket through Team D.C., media sponsor the Washington Blade and Ciroc will host a private party between the two games on Dec. 8 in the Acela Lounge at the Verizon Center. Ciroc will provide the first 100 people with a free drink and the party will remain open through the second game.

Tickets for the doubleheader are $30 and can be purchased at teamdc.org.

Children’s Charities Foundation is online at ccfdc.org.

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