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Big 12 Keeps Men's Championship in K.C. Through 2016
By Wendell Barnhouse | wendell@big12sports.com
Big12Sports.com Correspondent

KANSAS CITY - The flag was planted when the Big 12 Conference, the Kansas City Sports Commission and Sprint Center/AEG agreed to a five-year agreement to stage the Phillips 66 Big 12 Men's Basketball Championship here through 2014.

Friday at the Sprint Center, it was announced that flag will wave for an additional two years, cementing the event through 2016.

Perhaps more importantly, the new deal provides the Big 12 first right to championship dates after 2016. That could effectively block another conference from playing its conference tournament in KC as long as the Big 12 wants to keep its men's basketball championship here.

"This agreement solidifies the fact that Kansas City is Big 12 country. The sport of college basketball has a great history in Kansas City and the Big 12 is a large part of it," Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby during a news conference held at the Sprint Center. "The city has always been a fantastic host for schools, fans and alumni and this allows our men's basketball student-athletes to continue competition in one of the best basketball facilities in the nation."

The announcement was made following the conclusion of the Big 12 spring business meetings and a vote by the conference Board of Directors.

The Phillips 66 Big 12 Men's Basketball Championship has been played in Kansas City 11 times since the league began competition in 1996-97 - more than any other city in the Conference. The next four years will make it seven consecutive seasons.

"I'm claiming that Kansas City is a Big 12 city," Kansas chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little said. "It has been a great place for our tournament. We've had a little bit of luck here in Kansas City so I think it's a great place to have the tournament."

Kansas has won six of 11 Big 12 men's basketball tournaments that have been in Kansas City.

Kansas State president Kirk Schulz echoed the sentiments of his counterpart from KU.

"The City of Kansas City has been a terrific host for our basketball championship for many years and we are thrilled to be heading back to Sprint Center each season through 2016," Schulz said. "The support from our league's terrific fans, both throughout the Midwest and all of Big 12 country, has made the Big 12 Basketball Championship one of the best and most exciting conference tournaments in the nation."

Missouri's departure to the Southeastern Conference, effective July 1, raised concerns about the Big 12 wishing to keep its men's championship in Kansas City. Acting commissioner Chuck Neinas pointed out that that the first word in the city's name is "Kansas."

And Kansas' Sheahon Zenger said his fellow athletic directors had no doubt about the contract extension.

"There was unanimous support," he said. "The ADs wanted to be here in Kansas City and show how much they appreciated what happened in the past."

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