Jan. 15, 2009

INDIANAPOLIS - The NCAA® announced today the details for the 2009 Pinnacle of FitnessTM challenge program which will energize middle school age children in nine cities across the United States and allow them to compete for a chance to win the national title in St. Louis during the week of the 2009 NCAA Women's Final Four®.

The Pinnacle of Fitness challenge is an NCAA Division I women's basketball initiative of healthy living and education that will challenge and improve individuals and their communities.  The 2009 Pinnacle of Fitness challenge is expected to involve 100 middle schools in nine selected cities, with 74,000 middle school students participating.

"The Pinnacle of Fitness challenge is an important and fun initiative that will connect the great game of basketball with youth in communities across the country to help in the promotion of improved physical fitness," said Sue Donohoe, NCAA vice president of Division I Women's Basketball. "We have enjoyed the challenge of beginning the program in nine markets in 2009 and hope to expand the reach of the program in the future."

The cornerstone of the program is the Middle School Challenge, which will educate and challenge students to improve their level of physical fitness through leading active lives, goal setting and developing life skills.  The program will reward youth for improving their health and wellness and will be conducted at sites that will host a first- and second-round or regional round of competition during the 2009 NCAA Division I Women's Basketball Championship. 

The Middle School Challenge will begin with each of the competing middle schools conducting in-school physical fitness assessment and testing.  The top-10 students from the competing middle schools will compete in progressive on-court competitions at the sites during the regular season and again during the championship.  Competitions will take place during pregame or halftime of women's basketball regular season or championship games scheduled at the following sites:

Host Institution/Site                                                                            Dates of Middle School Challenge Competititon

Louisiana State University

Baton Rouge, Louisiana                                                         January 22, February 1, March 22

Pete Maravich Assembly Center                                             and 24


University of California

Berkeley, California                                                                February 21, March 5, 7, 28 and 30

Haas Pavilion


Western Kentucky University

Bowling Green, Kentucky                                                      February 8, 22 and 25, March 22

E.A. Diddle Arena                                                                  and 24


University of Georgia

Duluth, Georgia                                                                      January 29, March 21 and 23

Gwinnett Center


Texas Tech University

Lubbock, Texas                                                                       March 22 and 24

United Spirit Arena


North Carolina State University

Raleigh, North Carolina                                                          January 29, February 19 and 26,

RBC Center                                                                            March 28 and 30


San Diego State University

San Diego, California                                                             January 31, February 4 and 28,

Cox Arena                                                                               March 21 and 23


University of Notre Dame

South Bend, Indiana                                                               March 22 and 24

Joyce Center


University of Connecticut

Storrs, Connecticut                                                                 February 24 and 28, March 22

Harry A. Gampel Pavilion                                                      and 24


Competing middle schools and individual students will be recognized through school rewards that include fitness support funding for equipment, special events and awards.  The winning middle school from each region will be awarded the opportunity to compete in the NCAA National Pinnacle of Fitness challenge on center court at NCAA Hoop City® Refreshed by Coca-Cola® during the 2009 Women's Final Four.  There, one middle school will be named the 2009 Pinnacle of Fitness challenge champion.

For more information in regard to the Pinnacle of Fitness challenge, go online to http://www.ncaa.com/champ/wbasket-div1-champ.html or contact Denee Barracato at 317/917-6643 (dbarracato@ncaa.org).


About the NCAA and Division I Women's Basketball

The NCAA is a membership-led nonprofit association of colleges and universities committed to supporting academic and athletic opportunities for more than 400,000 student-athletes at more than 1,000 member colleges and universities.  Each year, more than 54,000 student-athletes compete in NCAA championships in Divisions I, II and III sports.  Visit www.ncaa.org and www.ncaa.com for more details about the Association, its goals and members and corporate partnerships that help support programs for student-athletes.

NCAA women's basketball is characterized by strong fundamentals, high quality of play, sportsmanship, role model student-athletes and family oriented entertainment.  The latest NCAA Graduation Success Rate figures show 81 percent of NCAA Division I women's basketball players graduate.  In terms of the NCAA Academic Progress Rate, which measures term-by-term academic success, the overall score is 960, well above the NCAA benchmark of 925.

For the latest news in regard to the Women's Final Four, visit www.ncaa.com/finalfour.