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ESPN to broadcast live at game

Chris Hine | Friday, January 23, 2009

Some Notre Dame students got a special treat as they sat down to dinner Wednesday night in South Dining Hall – former Notre Dame basketball coach Digger Phelps visited their tables, encouraging them to show up for the ESPN College Gameday’s live broadcast from the Joyce Center Saturday from 11 a.m. to 12 p.m and then to No. 19 Notre Dame’s basketball game against No. 3 Connecticut at 7 p.m.

“They couldn’t believe I was there,” Phelps said. “I stood up on a couple chairs and give a big loud speech and then I went around from table to table to say ‘Hey, get your dorm there. I want everybody there.'”

Phelps, who’s a co-host of the show, was passing out fliers featuring a picture of well-known ESPN reporter Erin Andrews that said “She’ll be there Saturday! Will you?”

Phelps even popped his head in one dorm where University President Fr. Jenkins was giving a talk. Phelps said Jenkins spotted him in the back of the room, and called on him to give his basketball spiel.

On Saturday, Notre Dame will be putting its nation-best 45-game home winning streak on the line. Saturday will also mark the first time Gameday will come to Notre Dame for a basketball game. To mark the occasion, the University, in cooperation with the Leprechaun Legion has planned a camp out and other events beginning tonight.

At 9 p.m. tonight, Gate 3 of the Joyce Center will be open for students who wish to camp out for the night inside the Joyce Center. Lines can form at 8:45. Wristbands will be handed out at 9 p.m. for line placement for seats at Saturday’s game.

Senior Tony Ceravolo, the president of the Leprechaun Legion, encouraged students to bring pillows, blankets and extra homework they might have. The Legion will also provide poster boards and Sharpies to make signs for Gameday.

“Anti-UConn sentiment is also encouraged,” Ceravolo said.

Doors will close at midnight and inside there will be basketball games, showing of movies, such as “Hoosiers,” and sign creation for Gameday. Drinks will be provided by head coach Mike Brey.

On Saturday, the doors to Gate 3 will re-open at 6 a.m., and wristbands will again be handed out. At 7 a.m. breakfast will be served compliments of Brey.

At 9:15, students will be admitted into the Joyce Center Arena for the airing of Gameday. At that time Phelps will run contests where students can win prizes such as round-trip airline tickets, $50 gift certificate to Legends, Bookstore gift cards, free books for a semester and autographed memorabilia from Phelps, former Indiana coach Bob Knight and the rest of ESPN’s Gameday crew.

At 10 a.m. ESPN will film a live show from the Joyce Center to air on SportsCenter and at 11 a.m., Gameday will begin, concluding at 12 p.m. The arena will be cleared and students can return to Gate 11 at 2 p.m. for line placement according to their wristbands. At 5 p.m. the students will enter the arena for the game.

“It’s huge for students to show up to the gameday events this weekend,” Ceravolo said. “This is the first time ESPN Gameday has to come to Notre Dame for a basketball event and we want to show the nation how supportive we are and that we aren’t just a football school,” Ceravolo said.

Phelps said he wants the crowd to resemble the crowd that came to see Notre Dame’s 1977 win over a then-undefeated San Francisco team. The crowd was so loud and affected so much that NBC, who was broadcasting the game, named the crowd the most valuable player.

“I’ve seen Gamedays all over for five years and this team has earned the right to have Gameday here and I just want to show the nation that this is Notre Dame,” Phelps said.