The first area Tip-Off basketball tournament gets under way tonight at Capital Centre after much haggling over who would and wouldn't participate.
After years of discussion about such an event, Georgetown and Navy will take to the court at 7:15, to be followed by Maryland (1-0) and American at approximately 9. The championship game will be Monday at 9 p.m., following the consolation game.
One person who will not be attending is George Washington athletic director Bob Faris, who turned down a bid last April, requesting that more teams be involved and that the scheduling be reconsidered.
Maryland responded by saying that it would not reschedule GW after the present contract expires next year, ending a 54-game local rivalry. GW beat Maryland for the first time in 16 years last season.
"I don't think I'll bother about going," said Faris. "I'll see the area champion when the winner of this tournament plays us this year."
"It's kind of ridiculous to call this an area championship. We beat Maryland, Georgetown, Catholic and Navy last year (GW lost to American in its last game.) We are the area champion if anybody is."
Faris said that he was not bitter, that he hoped Maryland would reconsider its vow not to reschedule GW. However, Maryland Athletic director, Jim Kehoe has not budged since the April turmoil.
"I feel it's nonnegotiable," said Kehoe. "Frankly, this opens us up to schedule another game at home, and home games are very important."
Kehoe said the torney's timing was unfortunate, coming during the Thanksgiving holiday and on the same day as the Redskin-Cowboy football game, which will be televised on Tel-Screen at 4 p.m.
"It will take two or three years to get it going," said Kehoe. "But I think we'll see a full house then. It's a natural."
Another man who won't be watching is AU athletic director Bob Frailey, who has advocated such a tournament for years.
American, snubbed at first was invited to fill the space GW left vacant and, at first, Frailey refused because of a mixup in dates. He then admitted that financial considerations changed his mind.
Now that matters are smoothed over, Frailey will be unable to watch the game because he is recovering from a heart attack.
"The doctor says it's a no-no," said Frailey. "And so does my wife."
"I think the tournament will go through some growing pains. I think the timing is unfortunate, and in the future, we'll have to look at our calendars. But the area has needed it. I just hope the fans take a look at what they've got."
These same four teams played a doubleheader at Capital Centre two years ago and drew 14,000.
AU and Maryland have played only once before, in 1926, when the Eagles won, 21-16.
Navy beat Georgetown last season on a last-second shot, 56-55.
Maryland, ranked 13th in the nation in Sports Illustrated's preseason poll, figures to be the tourney favorite.