Women's NCAA tournament: Pitt loses money hosting subregional

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Local supporters of women's college basketball may have to wait a long time for another chance to see the NCAA tournament hosted by Pitt because the university took a financial hit in hosting the event.

A big part of the problem is that the Panthers didn't qualify for the subregional -- and thus there was no local draw -- and none of the four teams that did play in the event -- Ohio State, Saint Francis, Middle Tennessee State or Mississippi State -- sold a significant number of tickets nor are they the kind of big-name teams that would attract casual local fans.

Pitt sold about 5,000 tickets to the event, but fewer than 2,000 of those were sold after the matchups were announced. A number of people bought tickets early in hopes of seeing either Pitt or, perhaps, even No. 1-ranked Connecticut.

"We'll have to evaluate [whether to bid for it again]," Pitt athletic director Steve Pederson said. "The problem is, [with Pitt not making it] from the time the teams were announced on, we did literally no ticket sales, and so in these economic times to lose money on an event like this, and we will lose money, it is not great for our program.

"We'd have to really think about it if we are going to do it again because when you lose money on something you have to re-evaluate it."

Pederson did not give specifics in terms of how much of a loss it will be because the final numbers are not yet tallied. However, according to an Associated Press report, 11 of the 16 first- and second-round host sites lost money last year and most of those 11 lost between $20,000 and $50,000.

Beyond the financial strain, however, Pederson said there were certainly some positives to come from it and it was a good opportunity for the school to showcase its facilities and the Petersen Events Center.

"The feedback we got from all four of the schools and the people from the NCAA has been very positive," he said. "I think we can be very proud of all the hard work and the effort that our staff put in to make this possible, they really put in a lot of extra hours and a lot of work."

NOTE -- Pitt sophomore Kate Popovec has asked for and has been granted a release from her scholarship and she will look to transfer to another Division I school. She appeared in 21 games, started 10 and averaged 2.9 points per game.

Paul Zeise: pzeise@post-gazette.com .


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