When the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association (CIAA®), the nation’s first African-American athletic conference, hosts its 75th Annual Championship Basketball Tournament February 25-29 in Charlotte, there will be a lot more on the schedule than 22 games of men’s and women’s competitive hoops for the 130,000+ fans expected to attend.
As is its tradition, the CIAA has planned a full slate of inspirational, educational and empowering community events to balance out the entertainment and sports activities typically found at Conference Championships. Ranging from Voter Registration, Census canvassing and a Minority Business Symposium to the free two-day Toyota Fan Fest, there’s something for everyone during tournament week which is an immersive cultural experience all its own.
“We take our saying ‘CIAA For Life’ quite literally,” said CIAA Commissioner Jacqie McWilliams. “We celebrate the accomplishments of our student-athletes at the tournament but we also know that our role is to provide multiple paths to success beyond the court for them, our fans and our alumni. Tournament week is a time for us to enrich the lives of everyone in the CIAA community.”
CIAA Education Day puts the focus on education early in the week with separate events for more than 6,000 area middle school and high school youth. Middle school kids gather on Tuesday, February 25 at Ovens Auditorium for a STEM program while their high school counterparts meet with college recruiters and get tips on the collegiate experience on Wednesday, February 25 at the Charlotte Convention Center. Democracy NC and the RHO PSI Omega chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha will be on location to register students to vote at the same time that others are providing opportunities to fill in the Census survey.
Business is the word of the day for Thursday with career-oriented programs taking place at multiple sites. The Charlotte Convention Center is home for the CIAA Minority & Business Leadership Symposium Presented by Bank Of America and the CIAA Career Expo, while the invitation-only CIAA Women’s Empowerment Brunch presented by Nationwide and the CIAA Student-Athlete Empowerment Symposium will be found at the Westin Charlotte. Later in the day, the Diversity and Inclusion Town Hall Forum takes place at the Wells Fargo Auditorium.
Friday brings the launch of the free family-friendly two-day Toyota Fan Fest that is chock full of entertaining concerts, dancing and interactive events at the Charlotte Convention Center. Five new CIAA legends will be inducted into the John B. McLendon, Jr. CIAA Hall of Fame Breakfast that morning and 75 Years of CIAA Basketball History will be showcased in the Toyota Black History Month Trailer on display at Fan Fest. The 6th Annual CIAA-Samaritan’s Feet charitable campaign, CIAA Shoes of Hope Presented by Coke Zero, is expected to distribute 600 pairs of new socks and shoes to youth in need along with a message of hope, love and compassion.
Highlights of the CIAA Lowes Super Saturday include a basketball clinic with the world-famous Harlem Globetrotters, the popular CIAA Cheerleading Exhibition and the traditional Miss CIAA competition presented by Food Lion.
The basketball tournament features the conference’s 12-member institutions. Early round games begin at Bojangles’ Coliseum on Tuesday, Feb. 25 and will conclude with the highly-anticipated championship semi-finals and finals at the Spectrum Center on Friday, February 28 and Saturday, February 29.
Single-Session tickets are now on sale at Ticketmaster and the box offices at Bojangles’ Coliseum and Spectrum Center. Proceeds from all ticket sales support scholarships for students attending CIAA member schools.