Pac-12 opens college sport up to Chinese market with historic regular season game

US college sport conference the Pac-12 has announced it is to host a first-of-its-kind, regular season basketball game in China as part of its Globalisation Initiative programme.

Pac-12 member the Washington Huskies will play the Big 12’s Texas Longhorns in the inaugural Pac-12 China Game at Shanghai’s Mercedes-Benz Arena on November 14. The event will be co-hosted by the Federation of University Sports of China (FUSC), a long-term partner of the Pac-12 that operates under China’s Ministry of Education.

This year’s game will mark the first occasion that a US sports league, either collegiate or professional, will host a regular season match in China. Sports broadcaster ESPN will provide coverage of the game in the US, while the match will also be live streamed on several digital platforms in China.

The game will also stand as a major milestone in the Pac-12’s Globalisation Initiative, which, was founded in 2011 and aims to showcase the conference as well as its member institutions in China. The initiative also promotes goodwill and transformative life experiences through student-athlete exchange and sport.

Aside from the actual match, the China Game will also feature a variety of off-court, educational and cultural activities for the university delegates the Pac-12 is working with through its partners in China.

Such activities will include an academic delegation of 13 members from Pac-12 institutions participating in three educational expositions in Shanghai, Nantong, and Suzhou. This will enable the conference to introduce Pac-12 universities to Chinese students and provide information about educational opportunities.

Meetings will also take place with education and government leaders in China, with the focus of these being on cooperative programs in student and faculty exchange, research and online education. Student-athletes will also have the opportunity to experience Chinese culture and visit historic landmarks.

In further support of the event, online and mobile commerce giant Alibaba will serve as an official partner of the game. The deal will run for two years and cover the inaugural game as well as next year’s edition, the details of which are yet to be decided.

“This event is a great step forward for our initiative as we continue to extend our member universities’ relations in China and promote goodwill between our countries,” Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott said.

“This is a great example of college sports providing transformative educational and cultural experiences for student-athletes. In addition to the valuable experience for the students, this type of cultural exchange has the power to create more goodwill and mutual understanding between the United States and China.

“Just like in the realm of the steadily growing business and economic ties between our two great countries, ‎competition and cooperation in athletics as well can serve as valuable mechanisms for deepening our bilateral engagement with one another and strengthening the bonds of friendship among all segments of our respective societies.”

Yang Liguo, executive vice-president and secretary general of the FUSC, added: “With the organisation of this event, we are confident that it will open a new chapter for future collaboration between FUSC and Pac-12, and also inject new vitality to relationships between the countries.”