The EA SportsMaui Invitational is an annual early-season college basketball tournament that takes place Thanksgiving Week in Lahaina, Hawaii at the Lahaina Civic Center on the island of Maui. It is hosted by Chaminade University of Honolulu (which is also a yearly participant), along with a field of seven NCAA Division I men's basketball teams. EA Sports has served as the title sponsor since 2001. The tournament, broadcast by ESPN, began in 1984, as inspired by a 1982 upset by Chaminade over Virginia, considered by some to be the greatest upset in college basketball history.
The tournament began because of what is considered the greatest upset in the history of college basketball. On December 23, 1982, Chaminade, then an NAIA school (now NCAA Division II), defeated #1 Virginia which included Ralph Sampson, in Hawaii.
Shortly after the amazing upset, Virginia head coach Terry Holland congratulated Chaminade’s Athletic Director, Mike Vasconcellos, and suggested to him that he might consider beginning a Hawaii tournament at some point. Two years after that, the Maui Classic, today’s EA Sports Maui Invitational, had begun for the first time, with Chaminade reaching the finals and losing to Providence.
Today the tournament provides schools an opportunity to compete on a neutral court with some of the top basketball programs in the country. Associated Press college basketball editor Jim O'Connell calls the EA SPORTS Maui Invitational, "the best in-season tournament in the country – the standard by which all others are compared."
Some 82 schools representing 21 conferences and 37 states have competed in the EA SPORTS Maui Invitational. The only teams to win the Maui Invitational and the national championship in the same season are Michigan (won Maui Inviational in 1988 and were 1989 National Champions) and North Carolina twice (Maui Inviational winners in 2004 and 2008 and won national championship in 2005 and 2009).
Starting with the 2011 tournament, the field will add four mainland teams that will play the Maui-bound teams at home.
Effect on the local economy
Each year, more than 4,000 out-of state visitors – boosters, players, officials, team and game personnel, media representatives, sponsors, production crews and basketball fans in general - attend. The 2007 EA SPORTS TM Maui Invitational Hosted by Chaminade University again ranked among Hawaii’s top revenue-generating events by bolstering the local economy by more than $8 million, according to the latest financial data released by the Maui Visitors Bureau. The nation’s premier early-season college basketball tournament has brought nearly $130 million to Maui’s economy since the tournament’s debut in 1984.