Ingles' sponsorship solidifies an existing relationship between the company and the SoCon, who, together with Eblen Charities, are already working collaboratively on the Hoops Against Hunger and Headlock on Hunger campaigns to provide disadvantaged children access to food during break times from school. The campaigns encourage the donation of cash and nonperishable food items at regular-season basketball and wrestling contests and at the Southern Conference Basketball Championships presented by General Shale and the Arby's SoCon Wrestling Championship.
"Ingles has always been committed to community service projects such as these hunger initiatives, and we are grateful to be able to partner with them," said Southern Conference Commissioner John Iamarino. "Ingles' participation will greatly enhance our basketball and wrestling championships in Asheville."
Based in Asheville, Ingles was founded by third-generation grocer Robert Ingle in 1963. Focusing on smaller towns and rural communities, the store soon expanded into the neighboring states of South Carolina, Virginia, Tennessee, Georgia and Alabama, and now the chain boasts approximately 200 stores in six Southeastern states with annual sales of nearly $4 billion.
"Ingles is pleased to be the official grocery store of the Southern Conference," said Melissa Leavell, director of advertising at Ingles. "We're especially proud to work with the SoCon to combat child hunger in the greater Asheville community."
The Southern Conference Basketball Championships presented by General Shale and the Arby's SoCon Wrestling Championship are scheduled to be contested in Asheville through 2017. The basketball tournaments will take place at UNC Asheville's Kimmel Arena and the U.S. Cellular Center, while Kimmel will host the wrestling tournament.
The 2015 Southern Conference Men's Basketball Championship presented by General Shale (March 6-9) will be the 95th edition of the tournament, making it the oldest collegiate league basketball tournament in America. The 2015 tournament will be the 16th contested in Asheville, which has hosted the championship each year since 2012 after previously serving as the tournament's home from 1984-95. The Southern Conference Women's Basketball Championship presented by General Shale (March 5-8), which originated in 1984, will be making its fifth appearance in Asheville in 2015 (1995, 2012-14).
The 2015 Arby's SoCon Wrestling Championship (March 7) will be the 78th edition of the tournament and will be the fifth contested in Asheville after a four-year run there from 1992-95.