The Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association (CIAA) prepares a full court press experience for alumni, fans and supporters planning to attend its annual men's and women's basketball tournament hosted in two great Charlotte, N.C. venues from February 21 – 25.
This year marks the 72nd anniversary of the men's tournament and 43rd anniversary of the women's basketball tournament. Basketball action will commence at Bojangles Coliseum on Feb. 21 and 22 with early round game sessions. Quarterfinals, semifinals, and championship finals will be held on February 23 - 25 at Spectrum Center, formerly known as Time Warner Cable Arena.
All-session game tickets are on sale now and provide fans with access to both Bojangles Coliseum and Spectrum Center to experience 22 action-packed games, live performances by national recording artists, premium vendors, great food, contests, prizes and more. Tickets can be purchased at www.ciaatournament.org/tickets, and Ticketmaster.com. They can also be purchased on-site at both venues' box offices during tournament week.
"There is an experience for everyone who attends tournament week. We have free, fun-filled activities for families looking to spend time together; great basketball action for sports fans, community service programs attendees can volunteer for; and official events that range from concerts to our skate party and step shows," says CIAA Commissioner, Jacqie McWilliams. "Whether it's creating new initiatives furthering our commitment to engage and empower the community, or events that appeal to the various generations attracted to our tournament; we want to make sure we provide them with an experience that keeps them returning year-after-year."
Fans can still book their lodging through the CIAA's hotel housing program, which provides tournament attendees with the best available rates for more than25 hotel brands within and surrounding Uptown Charlotte. Hotel reservations can be made online at www.ciaatournament.org/hotels or via phone at (844) 293-6678 on Monday - Friday from 8:30 a.m. - 9:00 p.m. The deadline to book your hotel room is Thursday, February 2 at 11:59 p.m.
The free Toyota Fan Fest Live returns on Thursday, February 23 - Saturday, February 25 at the Charlotte Convention Center in Hall A & B. The three-day event features concerts by national recording artists, celebrity meet-n-greets, and interactive games and contests hosted by top brands like Nationwide, Coke Zero, Toyota, and Food Lion.
After Thursday's quarterfinals, tournament attendees can check out two of the CIAA's official events: the CIAA Old School Skate Party featuring DJ Kool held at Kate's Skating Rink off Independence Blvd and the Legends Concert at the Charlotte Convention Center.
The John B. McLendon, Jr. CIAA Hall of Fame Breakfast will celebrate seven great inductees during this year's 2017 induction ceremony on Friday morning in the Crown Ballroom at the Charlotte Convention Center. For a full list of inductees, including ESPN First Take's Stephen A. Smith, a Winston-Salem State University alumnus, click here.
The highly anticipated McDonald's Super Saturday, which is free and features the CIAA cheerleading exhibition and battle of the bands, returns to the Spectrum Center on Saturday, and closing out the week will be the CIAA's Post Tournament Concert.
On Wednesday, February 22, the CIAA Supports program will host community-focused events such as its annual CIAA Education Day, which engages over 6,000 secondary students with seminars and speakers that promote staying in school and higher learning; as well as its 2nd annual 'Finding Your Path to the Student Athlete Experience' education session to educate future student-athletes about competing at the collegiate level. This event, in partnership with the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), will be held on Tuesday, February 21.
The annual Career Expo takes place on Thursday, February 23 beginning at 9:00 a.m. at the Charlotte Convention Center. It will provide employers, recruitment officers, and graduate school recruiters the opportunity to meet recent graduates, graduation candidates, and current students from CIAA member schools and other universities in the Charlotte area, as well as residents of Charlotte and communities at-large who are seeking job opportunities.
The 3rd annual CIAA Shoes of Hope, in partnership with Samaritan's Feet and Coke Zero, will take place on Friday, February 24. Last year, up to 500 pairs of shoes and socks were provided to students at Billingsville Elementary School. The CIAA & Project Life Movement in partnership with Novant Health will enter its third year of conducting bone marrow drives throughout tournament week. Last year, over 2,000 swabs were completed with the help of 22 CIAA student-athlete volunteers.
New community engagement programs slated for 2017's tournament week includes the inaugural CIAA Diversity & Inclusion Reception: "Building Equity and Inclusion to Strengthen our Community", which kicks off the CIAA Empowerment Summit. The Summit will include: a Men's & Women's Empowerment Symposium that provides diversity and inclusion and empowerment training to student leaders from all 12 CIAA member institutions; as well as Empowerment for Entrepreneurs sessions to engage local entrepreneurs with training and pitch preparation, and conclude with a pitch presentation on the second day of training.
Sports fans can keep up with game action by downloading the official mobile app called, CIAA Front Row. With CIAA Front Row fans receive access to game recaps, score updates, breaking news, statistics, and alerts for all 16 CIAA championship sports. The mobile app is free and available for download on the Apple App Store and Google Play by searching CIAA Front Row.
Information about official events associated with the CIAA tournament can be found at www.ciaatournament.org. For details about the CIAA conference and its 15 championship sports, visit www.theciaa.com.