ANCHORAGE – The University of Alaska Anchorage announced Thursday that the 40th annual GCI Great Alaska Shootout will be the final edition of the tournament. The 2017 GCI Great Alaska Shootout will be held Nov. 21-25 at the Alaska Airlines Center.
“The Shootout has been an iconic event at UAA for 40 years, but unfortunately we cannot sustain our funding of this tournament in the current budget climate,” said UAA chancellor Sam Gingerich. “We are grateful for the enthusiastic support we’ve received over the years from our community, fans, volunteers, civic and business leaders and donors.”
Born in 1978 as the Sea Wolf Classic, the GCI Great Alaska Shootout is currently the longest-running regular-season college basketball tournament in the nation. UAA athletic director Tim McDiffett added that there are no plans to scale back the 2017 tournament.
“While we mourn its impending loss, we are committed to making the 2017 GCI Shootout a first-rate experience for the teams, patrons, and a celebration of its rich history," McDiffett said. "We are appreciative to GCI for its unwavering support and to the fans, volunteers, sponsors and donors for their support of the Shootout over 40 years.”
After changing its name in 1979 to the Great Alaska Shootout, the tournament continued to be held on Fort Richardson at the Buckner Field House through 1982, featuring legendary players and programs such as James Worthy and North Carolina, and Patrick Ewing and Georgetown.
In 1983, the Shootout moved to Sullivan Arena in Midtown Anchorage and continued to attract some of college basketball’s biggest names, boasting champions such as Arizona (1987), Michigan State (1989), UCLA (1990), Duke (1995), Kentucky (1996), North Carolina (1997), Kansas (1999), Syracuse (2000), Butler (2007) and St. John’s (2010). In 2014, it moved again – for the final time – to the state-of-the-art Alaska Airlines Center on the UAA campus.
Overall, the Shootout has hosted 30 of the 35 programs to win an NCAA Div. I men’s basketball championship, while featuring 132 teams – an average of 3.4 per tournament – that went on to make the NCAA Tournament the following spring.
Individually, the Shootout has featured 296 future NBA players, 39 NBA champions, 25 NBA All-Stars, 10 NBA No. 1 draft picks, six Olympic gold medalists, four NBA Finals MVPs and one NBA MVP (Tim Duncan).
Additionally, the Shootout has forged a strong tradition as one of the top women’s in-season events in the nation. Known as the Northern Lights Invitational from 1980-97 and as part of the Shootout since 1999, the women’s tournament has featured legendary names such as Southern California and Cheryl Miller (1986), Tennessee and Chamique Holdsclaw (1997), and Stanford and Candice Wiggins (2004).
The final GCI Great Alaska Shootout gets under way Nov. 21 with women’s first-round action featuring Binghamton vs. Tulsa (5:30 p.m.) and Maryland Eastern Shore vs UAA (8 p.m.). The 2017 men’s tournament begins Nov. 22, with Cal Poly, Central Michigan, College of Charleston, CSU Bakersfield, Idaho, Sam Houston State and Santa Clara joining the host Seawolves.
For ticket information, call 907-786-7811 or visit GoSeawolves.com/shootout.