KANSAS CITY, Mo. – The National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) is excited to announce that the 2017 and 2018 NAIA Division I Women’s Basketball National Championships are heading to Billings, Mont. Visit Billings and Rocky Mountain College (Mont.) serve as the official hosts with the event taking place inside Rimrock Auto Arena at MetraPark March 15-21, 2017 and March 14-20, 2018.
“We are excited about our Division I Women’s Basketball National Championship finding a home in the great northwest,” said Jim Carr, NAIA President and CEO. “We are confident that Visit Billings and Rocky Mountain will deliver on a first-class event that will be an outstanding experience for our student-athletes, coaches and fans.”
The state of Montana has previously welcomed a NAIA national championship event 11 times in association history, however March of 2017 marks the first basketball championship to travel to the Treasure State. The most recent event came in 2004 when NAIA’s wrestling national championships were held in Great Falls, Mont. – approximately 220 miles from Billings – for the then-third-straight year.
“We are thrilled to be named the host community for the 2017 and 2018 women’s basketball national championships,” said Alex Tyson, Visit Billings Executive Director. “While the economic impact and privilege to host the NAIA for this event is appreciated as a city, being able to offer this caliber of play to Billings and regional residents, will be an even greater opportunity as a community.”
The city of Billings itself is no stranger to NAIA events, as the locale served as the home of the NAIA Men’s Outdoor Track and Field National Championships from 1968 – 1972.
"We are ecstatic about being named as the host for the 2017 and 2018 NAIA Division I Women's Basketball Championships," said Bruce Parker, Rocky Mountain College Director of Athletics. "We are blessed to live in a wonderful community (Billings) that supports championship-level events. Rocky and the city of Billings are looking forward to making this an unforgettable experience for the student-athletes, coaches, officials and fans."
Originally constructed in 1975 and later renovated in 2010 – 2011 following a tornado that wrecked the facility, Rimrock Auto Arena is a 10,500-seat multi-purpose venue that hosts a multitude of events throughout the year, including various levels of Montana State High School basketball and the state’s All Class Wrestling Tournament.
Visit Billings, a division of the Billings Chamber of Commerce, focuses on the promotion and marketing of Montana’s Trailhead. The group focuses on showcasing how “The Magic City” can be a destination for leisure, group and business travel.
Rocky Mountain College is a residential, liberal arts college of approximately 1,000 students located in Billings, Mont. The Battlin’ Bears are members of the Frontier Conference and currently offer 12 varsity and three junior varsity sports, including both men’s and women’s basketball. As the host institution, Rocky Mountain receives an automatic berth into the championship field. Should the program qualify automatically via the Frontier Conference, an additional at-large position will be available.
The NAIA has sponsored Division I Women’s Basketball since the 1980-81 academic year, with the inaugural championship taking place in Kansas City, Mo. Former member Kentucky State downed Texas Southern, 73-67, to become the association’s first-ever Division I Women’s Basketball national champion. Currently, there are 94 institutions that sponsor women’s basketball at the Division I level.
Since 1937, the NAIA has administered programs and championships in proper balance with the overall educational experience. In 2000, the NAIA reaffirmed its purpose to enhance the character-building aspects of sport. Through the Champions of Character program, the NAIA seeks to create an environment in which every student-athlete, coach, official and spectator is committed to the true spirit of competition through five core values: integrity, respect, responsibility, sportsmanship and servant leadership.
To learn more about NAIA Division I Women’s Basketball, click here.
To learn more about Visit Billings, click here.
For more information about Rocky Mountain College, click here.