Salukis patiently wait for an equal opportunity

By Gus Bode

The SIU women’s basketball team doesn’t get the same opportunities nationally compared with the men.

Every year, NCAA men’s basketball programs travel across the country to compete in compensated holiday tournaments. For the women’s team, however, it’s a different story.

The women have not traveled to a tournament since 2009  when they played in the Berkeley, Calif., Colliers International Classic. To help fund a possible 2012 tournament trip, the women’s basketball team is selling $15 raffle tickets to an auction.

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Salukis tip off in overtime Thursday against Southern Illinois University Edwardsville at the SIU Arena. The women’s basketball team has not been sponsored the last two seasons for any Christmas tournaments because of a lack in revenue. The women’s basketball team is selling raffle tickets to raise enough money to attend a tournament in either Mexico, Miami or the Bahamas. Nathan Hoefert | Daily Egyptian

Head coach Missy Tiber said the fundraisers are not only for a good cause, but are beneficial to the team.

“Any time that we do a fundraiser, it’s just a way to help bring in money to support our program and do some extra things that our typical operating budget won’t allow us to do,” Tiber said.

On the other hand, the men’s basketball team has consistently competed in holiday events, such as the 2010-11 Christmas tournament in Las Vegas and this year’s ESPN Diamond Head Classic in Honolulu.

SIU Athletic Director Mario Moccia said the men’s tournament is under a NCAA mandate to compete in multi-team events, but regulations are different for women’s basketball.

“With the men, the director from the league says that’s one specific way the men’s basketball team can improve their (rating percentage index) and put multiple teams into the NCAA tournament, which is a revenue maker,” Moccia said. “From a women’s standpoint, it’s not that way.”

Moccia said the men’s team has always been invited by ESPN to participate in tournaments, and ESPN compensates the team by providing transportation, lodging and food services.

“Although there is some cost incurred, the cost is minimal,” Moccia said. “ESPN pays a big portion of the cost.”

He said there is absolutely no source of favoritism because every program under Saluki Athletics can be supported.

“For the women, we can certainly assist in some of the cost, but we ask all teams to fundraise to limit cost,” Moccia said. “The women are fundraising and choosing to put it towards tournament travel.”

Tiber  said she is not concerned about her team not being able  to compete in as many tournaments as the men’s team, but she said the team will in the future.

“We can play in tournaments if we so choose,” Tiber said. “This year, we wanted to play more home games rather than have to forfeit games to play in a tournament.”

Junior guard Teri Oliver anticipates to the opportunity.

“We look forward to competing in a tournament again,” Oliver said. “It will be a fun experience with the team.”

Tiber said the team will continue to fundraise and, in the future, play in more tournaments. For now, it’ll focus more on maturing this year at home.

“We’re just looking to raise money in addition to our operating budget,” Tiber said.

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