Las Vegas will remain a target destination this summer for college basketball coaches looking to evaluate high school talent. But it won't be nearly the circuit it has been in recent years.
Tournament officials for the Summer Championships announced Thursday that the event has been suspended until at least 2011. They cited the loss of Reebok as its title sponsor, increasing facility costs and the troubled economy as reasons for the event being called off.
"We've been working hard to try to get sponsorship, but in this economy, the dollars are pretty tight, even with major corporations," tournament director Jim Allen said.
A phone message left with Reebok's public relations department was not returned.
During its heyday, the tournament featured roughly 300 teams from 44 states and three countries. Last year, however, those numbers dropped to 136 teams from 28 states, and Nevada had no teams in the field.
The same management team that organized the Big Time tournament from 1995 to 2006 produced the tournament the past three years.
"We've been involved in this for 15 years," Allen said. "It's been a great service to a lot of student-athletes."
Allen called the tournament's suspension "a matter of economics."
"When we were running 200 teams, it was over $325,000," he said. "When you put three referees and scorers and timers and ticket takers and security, all of a sudden that adds up."
Headquartered at Foothill High School in Henderson in recent years, the tournament has utilized as many as 24 courts at 12 local high schools.
Allen said the tournament's status had been in question since late October. He said officials will strive to bring the event back next year, with landing a title sponsor being the primary goal.
"We're going to get our proposals in front of people in June before they take a look at their budgets," said Allen, a former coach at Rancho and Green Valley.
Ron Montoya, director of the adidas Super 64 tournament, said his event is "alive and well." He expressed sadness at the Summer Championships being suspended.
"If it wasn't for Reebok and adidas last summer, can you imagine what the recession would have been like?" he said. "We brought 12,000 kids, along with coaches and fans to the city.
"The real loss of the Reebok tournament is to the hotels, restaurants and rental car facilities. They're the ones who are really going to take the hit."
Contact reporter Tristan Aird at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-387-5203.