March 4, 2011

Banner Health NCMC to sponsor Big Sky Championship

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GREELEY -- North Colorado Medical Center and Jay Hinrichs, Northern Colorado's director of athletics, announced today a special agreement in conjunction with next week's Big Sky Championship.

NCMC has signed on to be the title sponsor of one of the marquee events in Bears athletics history, allowing Northern Colorado Athletics to host the Banner Health North Colorado Medical Center Men's Basketball Big Sky Championship at Butler-Hancock Sports Pavilion.

The agreement is set for the 2011 men's championship, and NCMC and CEO Rick Sutton have agreed in principle to sponsor the women's championship, too, should the Bears' women defeat Idaho State tomorrow afternoon and earn their first Big Sky title.

The Northern Colorado men are 12-0 at home this season and 25-2 over the last two years, while Jaime White's women's program is 12-2 at home this year.

"We have a great partnership with Northern Colorado Athletics and are proud to be an integral part of the care of their student athletes," Sutton said. "We're proud of our community and our University. Sponsorship of the Big Sky Conference Championship seemed a natural fit for Banner with two of the best teams in northern Colorado teaming up again."

The men's basketball championship semifinals and finals will take place Tuesday and Wednesday, March 8 and 9. B.J. Hill's Bears will take the court around 8 p.m. Tuesday and, should they advance, will play at 7 p.m. Wednesday for a spot in this year's NCAA Tournament.

The women's basketball championship is scheduled to run from Thursday to Saturday, March 10 and 12, with quarterfinals, semifinals and finals. With a win tomorrow, Northern Colorado would earn the top seed and a bye into Friday's semifinals.

"The entire department of athletics benefits greatly from the team at NCMC," Hinrichs said. "Its physicians, hospital services and sports-medicine professionals are clearly some of the best in the country. We appreciate Banner and NCMC for stepping up to support another great athletic event in Greeley and on the Northern Colorado campus. NCMC and Banner are a big part of the team here at UNC."