College Sports

Saints add a perk with TV exposure

The Saint Martin's men's basketball team will find itself on an unfamiliar stage this season - television.

On Jan. 11, FSN Northwest will televise Saint Martin’s home game with Western Oregon. It’s part of an agreement by FSN Northwest and the Great Northwest Athletic Conference to televise nine games this season.

“I’m excited,” Saint Martin’s coach Keith Cooper said. “This is a great opportunity to highlight our school and our students.”

FSN Northwest will televise eight GNAC regular-season games and the men’s conference championship March 4. It’s a one-year deal with the prospect of an extension.

“This is excellent exposure of our basketball programs and our institutions,” said Richard Hannan, the GNAC commissioner. “It’s not going to bring a lot of money back to us initially. Down the road, it has that potential. Right now, it’s about the exposure.”

Hannan has been trying for nearly 10 years to get a television contract for the conference.

“A lot of hard work has gone into this,” Hannan said. “The thing I like about it is we’re able to get prime-time exposure.”

SMU’s TV gameday is already creating a stir on campus. There are plans to duplicate “Krzyzewski-ville,” where Duke fans camp out days before a game to ensure a front-row seat. Except Saint Martin’s pre-game camp out will be called “Cooper Town.”

“I’ll toss out some Saint T-shirts and bring some pizzas,” Cooper said. “They’re talking about doing it for a week. I think things like this are great for the university. There’s lots of excitement.”

Besides a spike in fan following, Cooper figures to get a boost in recruiting with the TV exposure. Cooper said there will be more name identity among recruits.

“It gives exposure to how we play,” Cooper said. “It gives exposure to our beautiful facility we play in. It gives exposure to our crowd and tremendous fan support.”

FSN Northwest will televise one GNAC game a week with the SMU-Western Oregon game kicking it off. Other planned TV games include Simon Fraser at Northwest Nazarene, Jan. 19; Western Washington at Seattle Pacific, Jan. 26; Seattle Pacific at Central Washington, Feb. 9; Central Washington at Western Washington, Feb. 16; and Alaska Fairbanks at Alaska Anchorage, Feb. 23. The Seattle Pacific women’s game at Western Washington will be televised Feb. 2.

FSN Northwest telecasts more than 350 games each year to a Northwest cable and satellite audience of 3.4 million homes.

“This is good for Saint Martin’s basketball,” Cooper said. “This is great for the university.”

Gail Wood: 360-754-5443