Home » Columns » Currently Reading:

Jimmy V Classic

December 17, 2002 Columns No Comments

The Jimmy V Classic – It’s Come a Long Way, Baby

by Adam Shandler

It was December of 1997.

I was a budding sports/newscaster at a small, 1,000-watt station in Pompton Lakes, NJ. To placate our listeners and advertisers, we’d offer them everything from Off-Off-Broadway show tickets to free meal certificates at the local catering hall — the one that hosted Thursday afternoon Kiwanis Club luncheons.

In early December, our sales department somehow scored a batch of tickets to this three-year-old college basketball event called the Jimmy V. Classic. I thought, “Free tickets to a college hoops event in Jersey? How can I miss this?” The bill featured Princeton taking on Wake Forest, followed by my childhood favorite Seton Hall and Clemson. ESPN, the cosponsor of the event, was televising the games nationally, there were some local teams involved, and it was an event to raise awareness and money for cancer research. So naturally I figured lines to get into the Continental Airlines Arena parking lot would be out to the Turnpike and you wouldn’t be able to find an empty seat in the house.

Oh, my naiveté!

My dad and I breezed into the parking lot and parked almost to the curb of the arena. When we found our seats, we looked out and saw nothing but a sea of burnt orange — and we’re not talking about Princeton and Clemson fans decked out in their school colors. These were the colors of seats. The Princeton-Wake game was early, so I sat back and waited for the Seton Hallers and scattered Clemson folk to file in later.

They never did, and my dad and I upgraded our seats so close to the action that we could read the inside tag on the official scorer’s referee shirt.

It was an embarrassment. To Jimmy V and to cancer research.

I later learned that sales for this event were, as imagined, emaciated. ESPN ended up buying the remainder of the unsold tickets, donating many to charitable organizations and radio stations like mine for giveaways.

But The V Foundation and ESPN clearly anticipated this losing battle with bringing fans into the arena, for at halftime of the Seton Hall-Clemson game, color man Dick Vitale came out to center court and addressed the fans.

“Next year, there shouldn’t be an empty seat in the house,” the bold, bombastic broadcaster told us. Us being my dad and me.

“Why, Dickie V?” I muttered to myself (although he easily could have heard me with the lack of crowd noise). “Are you bringing in Monmouth and Rider to play some lower echelon ACC schools next year?” I was a bit of an obnoxious brat back then. Now I am just obnoxious.

Vitale went on to say that for the 1998 Classic, fans would be treated to Duke and Kentucky, and Purdue and South Carolina. There was a low roar, but that is exactly what the small gathering (and the tens watching at home) wanted to hear.

You see, college basketball fans, as magnanimous and philanthropic as they might be, still need to be sold what they love. The charity business, which has become big business due to all the competition, needs to come up with more creative and eye-catching events to reign in followers and, more importantly, dollars.

While fans may not know that they are directly making a donation to the Jimmy V. Fund with their ticket purchase, they still want to be incentivized to make that donation. They want something in return, and in the case of the Jimmy V. Classic, that return is a high-level, high quality of college basketball.

The Jimmy V Foundation and ESPN learned this the hard way on December 19, 1997.

Since that night, both factions have put together some really good fight cards for this event. And while the scores may be a little lopsided, at least the teams participating are of the highest caliber. In some of the better, more recent matchups, Indiana and North Carolina went elbow-to-elbow in 1999 in a game where the Hoosiers were the victors, 82-73. Last year, Duke scraped by Kentucky in overtime, 95-92 and Alabama took a 70-67 win from Temple.

This year, the foundation didn’t slouch on bringing us voracious hoops fans a basketball feast. N.C. State, Valvano’s old team and one that is busting down the door of the Hoopville Top 25, faces Top 25 in-and-outer Gonzaga. In the 9:00 feature, it’s Number 3 Oregon battling Cincinnati. The Bearcats should have a whole new complexion with a svelter B.J. Grove returning to the team. The 6-11 center was pushing three bills but may have gotten his weight down to 270, a Huggins-required criterion.

So far, the Jimmy V. Basketball Classic has raised nearly $450,000 to help fund cancer research. That’s just the men’s basketball classic. Other successful signature events include a women’s college basketball classic and a Jimmy V. Golf Classic.

All this would have Jimmy V. “laughing, crying and thinking” — the heroic coach’s prescription for living a full day.


Comment on this Article:

Subscribe to Hoopville

Enter your email address to subscribe to Hoopville


Hoopville Archives

College Basketball Tonight

We hope you enjoyed COLLEGE BASKETBALL TONIGHT during the 2016 NCAA Tournament. COLLEGE BASKETBALL TONIGHT is a comprehensive look at the NCAA Tournament hosted by veteran college basketball broadcaster Ted Sarandis, along with co-hosts Mike Jarvis and Terry O'Connor, both former Division I coaches. It also included many great guests, including Hoopville's own Phil Kasiecki.

The show aired on AM 710 WOR in New York City on Sunday evenings starting with Selection Sunday and running through the NCAA Tournament.

Here are links to the shows:

March 13, 2016 - First hour | Second hour

March 20, 2016 - First hour | Second hour

March 27, 2016 - First hour | Second hour

April 3, 2016 - First hour | Second hour

Coaching Changes

The coaching carousel is moving. Keep track of the latest coaching changes right here on Hoopville.

Everybody Needs a Head Coach

Former college basketball coach Mike Jarvis has a new book out, Everybody Needs a Head Coach.

"As you read this book, I hope that Coach Jarvis' experiences inspire you to find your purpose in life."
-Patrick Ewing, NBA Hall of Fame center

"Mike Jarvis' is one of my special friends. I am so pleased that he has taken the time to write this fabulous book."
-Mike Krzyzewski, Five-time NCAA championship head coach, Duke Blue Devils

"In reading this book, I can see that Mike hasn't lost his edge or his purpose. Readers should take a look at what he has to say."
-Jim Calhoun, Three-time NCAA champion, UConn Men's basketball

Review on Hoopville coming soon!

Hoopville Podcasts

Talking Hoops With Ted Sarandis – March 17, 2018

March 17, 2018 by

In our latest podcast, there is one main story to focus on: history being made in Charlotte and its aftermath. But we also talk about tough times for the Pac-12 and a key member school, plus an added challenge ahead at Pittsburgh.

College Basketball Tonight – March 11, 2018

March 12, 2018 by

College Basketball Tonight returns with a comprehensive look at the NCAA Tournament bracket, and in the second segment Mount St. Mary’s head coach Jamion Christian joins us.

Talking Hoops With Ted Sarandis – March 10, 2018

March 10, 2018 by

As Championship Week nears its climax on the big Saturday, we look at a pair of semifinals and a lot of bubble teams that may be sweating it out on Sunday.

Talking Hoops With Ted Sarandis – March 8, 2018

March 8, 2018 by

As Championship Week heats up, we talk about bubble teams who may or may not want to earn their way into the NCAA Tournament, as well as a couple of mid-majors whose conference championship game was played earlier in the week.

Talking Hoops With Ted Sarandis – February 22, 2018

February 22, 2018 by

In our latest podcast, we start with floor issues in the Big East and an important NCAA ruling that was upheld. Then we go on to the Big 12, where Wednesday night had a new twist, as well as the ACC and how it shapes up along with no team going undefeated in conference play this year.

Phil Kasiecki on Twitter

Recruiting Coverage

Lincoln captures Hamilton Park title

August 15, 2017 by

For the first time, a public school won the Hamilton Park Summer League, and they were led by a big effort from a junior point guard in the title game.

Notes from a day at the 2017 Boston Shootout

June 12, 2017 by

Some news and notes coming from the second and final day of action at the 2017 Boston Shootout, where the host program provided plenty of talent, but so did a program that produced a team that beat them.

Notes from a day at the 2017 Northeast Hoops Festival

April 11, 2017 by

The Northeast Hoops Festival helped bring in the new spring travel season in New England, and we have notes from some of Saturday’s action.

2016 Boston Back to School Showcase notes

September 12, 2016 by

We look back at the 2016 Boston Back to School Showcase, where a couple of Boston City League teams were among the most impressive on the day.

2016 Hoopville Spring Finale championship recap

June 28, 2016 by

We look back at the championship games of the 2016 Hoopville Spring Finale, which had a big local flavor as one might have expected.