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The Kentucky All “A” Classic is coming back to Eastern Kentucky University.

Eastern hosted the small-school basketball tournament for boys’ and girls’ teams from 1991 to 2011. The Frankfort Convention Center has hosted the event the past six years.

The decision, which followed a meeting of the All “A” Classic Board of Directors, was announced on Saturday, Aug. 12, at a news conference at Alumni Coliseum, which will serve as the event venue.

“We are very pleased that the Kentucky All ‘A’ Classic statewide basketball tournament is returning to Richmond and EKU for the 2018, 2019, and 2020 seasons,” said Stan Steidel, chair of the All “A” board. “The efforts of Eastern Kentucky University, the City of Richmond, Richmond Tourism and the Chamber of Commerce have made this event possible. The Kentucky All ‘A’ Classic is appreciative of this partnership, and we look forward to renewing our proud tradition in Richmond and EKU.”

The 120 smallest schools in the Commonwealth will vie to compete in the annual Classic. Thirty-two teams, cheerleaders, students, school personnel, fans and others will converge on Richmond for the five-day event, which next year will be held Jan. 24-28. It is expected to attract more than 30,000 to the EKU campus and surrounding communities.

“Eastern was proud to host the All ‘A’ Classic for 20 years, and we are excited to welcome the event back to our campus and community,” EKU President Michael Benson said. “Much has changed here since 2011, with many new facilities and upgrades, but what has not changed one bit is the friendliness and hospitality visitors have come to associate with EKU and Richmond. We look forward to once again rolling out the maroon carpet for our friends from all across Kentucky and showcasing all that our campus and community have to offer.”

Richmond Mayor Jim Barnes said: “The City of Richmond is thrilled to play host to the All ‘A’ Classic once again. This is one of those great town-and-gown relationships that works so well for our community. This tournament provides a great economic boost for our local businesses.”

The first Kentucky Class “A” Tournament was held at Holy Cross High School in Latonia in 1980, with eight teams participating. In 1981, it moved to Bellevue High School with 10 teams, all from northern Kentucky. The Classic went statewide in 1982, inviting six Class A schools from around Kentucky to complete with 10 northern Kentucky schools. In 1990, a statewide tournament featuring 16 boys’ teams competed in Lexington. The following year, the Classic expanded to include a field of 16 boys’ regional winners and four girls’ sectional winners competing in statewide finals. The event expanded to include eight girls’ teams in 1992, and the current format was adopted in 1993.

The All “A” Classic also features a cheerleading competition among the participating squads.