ECU Wins "Pack The House" Challenge

East Carolina was one of 32 winners in the NCAA Division I “Pack the House” Challenge.

Schools urged fans to “Pack the House” for selected women’s basketball games from January 1 through February 17. And pack the house, they did.

Almost two-thirds of the Division I membership – 198 institutions – participated in the effort that attracted more than 592,000 fans.

East Carolina hosted 3,227 fans, the fifth-largest crowd, at its women’s basketball game against UCF on Feb. 17.

Events at Duke, Louisville, Marist, Navy, Oklahoma State and Presbyterian produced sell-out crowds. Seventy other programs surpassed their single-game attendance highs from last year.

“Pack the House” is a first-year national effort in which conferences and institutions compete to build attendance. One winner from each of the 31 conferences and one from a group of independent institutions were named. Selections were based on marketing plan creativity and attendance criteria. The NCAA will award prizes and donate $500 to the nonprofit organization of each winning institution’s choice.

“We believe the effort motivated schools to attract new fans to our game,” said NCAA Vice President for Women’s Basketball Sue Donohoe. “Campuses devoted additional time and resources to the competition. We are already being asked for information about next year. New alliances were formed among conference offices, member institutions and (NCAA) national office staff that will only strengthen efforts in the future.”

The ideas to market the games were as diverse as the membership itself.

At ECU, for example, the first-annual Walk for Women was held the day before the game, on Feb. 16, and raised over $4,200 for breast cancer research. Marketing assistant Whitney Woods headed the inaugural event as well as the “Pack the House” event. The event, which saw the entire Lady Pirate basketball team and coaching staff walking with members of the community, turned out to be a huge success and has hopes of being an even bigger success next year.

“This is a great award for East Carolina University and the Athletic department,” Scott Wetherbee, Assistant AD for Marketing and Ticket Operations, said. “The marketing staff has worked hard all year and this is a nice reward for them. This shows that their hard work does payoff and that people are noticing it. Whitney Woods did a great job of putting together the first-ever Walk for Women and heading up the ‘Pack the House’ event. We had great community involvement that started with the Walk for Women on Saturday (which raised over $4,200 for Breast Cancer research) and then at the game on Sunday. We invited over 1,200 youth groups to participate in our ‘Pack the House’ promotion. It was exciting to see our 5th largest crowd in school history and hope to expand on this next year.”