South Lake Tahoe, Calif./Nev…..Early RSVPs for the 2011 American Century Championship (www.TahoeCelebrityGolf.com), July 12-17, indicate one of the strongest celebrity fields in the golf tournament’s 22-year history. Super Bowl MVP Aaron Rodgers will join Michael Jordan, Charles Barkley, Rex Ryan, Tony Romo, Jerry Rice and a reunion of one of baseball’s greatest pitching rotations: Greg Maddox, Tom Glavine and John Smoltz in the field of 78 sports and entertainment stars at Edgewood Tahoe for the 54-hole, $600,000 tournament on NBC Sports.

Celebrity sightings, parties and superstar entertainment are on tap for South Lake Tahoe during the week-long festivities. The increased participation of entertainment luminaries and hot, new personalities and athletes has tournament buzz starting earlier than ever before.

Newcomers this year include Ryan, the volatile, quotable New York Jets head coach; Martin Brodeur, NHL All Star of the New Jersey Devils; Arian Foster, Houston Texans All-Pro running back; Deron Williams, New Jersey Nets All-Star guard; former Major League All-Stars Goose Gossage of the Yankees and Tom Glavine, Atlanta Braves; actors Tim Matheson of Animal House fame, and Rob Morrow of television dramas, Numbers and Northern Exposure.

More than two decades of memories plus sports and entertainment superstars has made the American Century Championship network television’s longest running celebrity golf tournament.

For the sixth consecutive year, the official tournament charity is LIVESTRONGTM– the organization founded by cancer survivor and champion cyclist Lance Armstrong to inspire and empower people affected by cancer. Since the tournament’s inception in 1990, more than $3 million has been raised for a variety of national and local charities.

NBC Sports and Versus will televise the tournament live on Friday, Saturday and Sunday as follows:

Friday, July 15: 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. ET, 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. PT (live) on Versus
Saturday, July 16: 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. ET, 12 p.m. to 3 p.m. PT (live) on NBC
Sunday, July 17: 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. ET, 12 p.m. to 3 p.m. PT (live) on NBC

Friday coverage will be re-broadcast via previous recording on Saturday from 12 p.m. to 2 p.m. ET, 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. PT on Golf Channel.

The American Century Championship will award $600,000 in prize money, with the tournament winner receiving $125,000. Scoring is based on a modified Stableford format with 10 points for a double eagle, 8 for a hole-in-one, 6 for eagle,3 for birdie, 1 for par, 0 for bogey, and minus 2 for double-bogey or higher.The 54-hole tournament has been played at Edgewood Tahoe’s 6,707-yard lakeside course since its inception in 1990.

Defending champion and former NFL quarterback Billy Joe Tolliver will likely see his stiffest competition from eight-time winner Rick Rhoden, four-time winner Dan Quinn and previous champions Chris Chandler, Jack Wagner and Mark Rypien. Additional challenges can be expected from last year’s foursome of second place finishers Wagner, Romo, Smoltz and John Elway, NFL Hall of Famer who has played in all 21 previous events.

The arts and entertainment fields are represented by actors Matheson and Morrow; Ray Romano of Men of a Certain Age and Everybody Loves Raymond; Dennis Haysbert of The Unit, 24 and Major League; John O’Hurley of Seinfeld, Family Feud and Dancing With the Stars; and Bruce McGill of numerous films including Animal House.

The National Football League’s shooting stars include the aforementioned Rodgers, Rice and Romo; plus Emmitt Smith, Hall of Famer and Dallas Cowboys great; Marshall Faulk, heading to Canton for induction this summer; A.J. Hawk of the Packers; Carson Palmer of the Bengals; Rodney Harrison, former All-Pro safety; and Matt Schaub, Houston Texans QB.

Basketball will be represented by all-time all-stars Jordan and Barkley as well as Ray Allen, Boston Celtics; Jason Kidd, Dallas Mavericks; Stephen Curry, Golden State Warriors; Chris Paul, New Orleans Hornets; Shane Battier, Houston Rockets; retired star Anfernee Hardaway; Los Angeles Clippers head coach Vinny Del Negro; and tournament newcomer Williams of the New Jersey Nets.

Hockey checks in with Brett Hull, Jeremy Roenick, Grant Fuhr, 1980 Olympic Gold Medal winner and team captain Mike Eruzione.

The NFL coaching ranks include Ryan, mentioned above; Mike Shanahan, Washington Redskins; Jack Del Rio, Jacksonville Jaguars; and Ken Whisenhunt, Arizona Cardinals; and Herm Edwards, ESPN analyst.

They will be joined by Kenny Lofton, Bret Saberhagen, Vince Coleman, Joe Carter, Ozzie Smith and Rhoden, the former MLB pitcher who competed on the PGA Champions Tour and is the American Century Championship’s all-time leading money winner with $1,136,474.

Tournament title sponsor American Century Investments, is a leading, privately-controlled investment management firm serving professionals, institutions, corporations and individuals. Through its ownership structure, more than 40 percent of company profits support research to help find cures for genetically-based diseases including cancer, diabetes and dementia.

Tickets are available for advance purchase online beginning April 1 online and daily at the gate. Prices are $15 each day for the Lake Tahoe Celebrity-Amateur on Tuesday, July 12, the practice round on Wednesday, July 13, and for the American Century Celebrity-Amateur on Thursday, July 14; and $25 for each tournament round, Friday, Saturday and Sunday. A Season Pass for $60 provides admission for all six days of the event. Kids 10 and under are free with a paid adult.

For tournament tickets, information and lodging packages:www.TahoeSouth.com/page/CelebGolf.

Discounted tickets for tournament rounds Friday through Sunday will be available starting June 1 at participating Raley’s, Nob Hill and Bel Air Foods supermarkets.

Learn more: www.TahoeCelebrityGolf.com. The Lake Tahoe Visitors Authority is finalizing development of a smart phone app, slated for launch this spring and including a section devoted to the tournament.

The American Century Championship is also on Facebook and Twitter. For the latest details on the tournament, celebrity tweets, fan contests and more, click here to join the fun and stay in touch between now and tournament time.