By Chad Waller | NAIA Director of Communications & Sports Information
KANSAS CITY, Mo. - The National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) has announced that the 2014 and 2015 NAIA Division II Men's Basketball National Championships will continue to be hosted by College of the Ozarks in Point Lookout, Mo. The championship has been held in Point Lookout since 2000, and the current contract with College of the Ozarks has the 2013 event scheduled for March 6 - 12 in Keeter Gymnasium.
"The NAIA is happy to extend our relationship with College of the Ozarks and the whole community for the Division II Men's Basketball National Championship," said Jim Carr, NAIA President and CEO. "Since 2000, our hosts have put the student-athlete experience first and have made it into one of the best. Everyone involved with this championship makes sure the participants leave town with some great memories."
The 2014 national championship will be held March 12 - 18, and the 2015 event is scheduled for March 11 - 17. As the host institution, Ozarks will receive a host berth. However, should Ozarks qualify through normal qualifying play, an additional at-large berth will be made available.
College of the Ozarks currently is tied as the second-longest active tenured national championship host - the 2013 championship will be the 14th-consecutive year in Point Lookout. The Avista-NAIA Baseball World Series has been played in Lewiston, Idaho, since 2000. The current host with the longest-streak is the NAIA Division II Women's Basketball National Championship in Sioux City, Iowa, which has been hosted there since 1998.
"College of the Ozarks and the Branson community are really excited about the extension of the NAIA Division II Men's Basketball National Championship," said Al Waller, co-championship director and College of the Ozarks Director of Athletics. "This has been a great fit because this area strongly believes in the NAIA Champions of Character program, and you can see it in the businesses, the shows, and in our college. And traditionally, this event has become the official tip-off of the Branson tourism season. We are proud to host this great event."
The national championship welcomes 32 teams to the Ozarks campus near Branson, Mo. Teams will play in a single-elimination format with eight first-round games each on Wednesday and Thursday. Friday's second-round action features eight games. Day four has four quarterfinals followed by a "rest" day on Sunday. The semifinals are scheduled for Monday prior to the Tuesday national championship final, which will be seen live nationally on CBS Sports Network at 8 p.m. CST.
The NAIA Division II Men's Basketball National Championship has been sponsored since 1992, when NAIA basketball was split into two divisions. Stephenville, Texas, hosted the first Division II Men's Basketball National Championship, when Grace (Ind.) defeated Northwestern (Iowa), 85-79, in overtime.
There are currently 131 NAIA Division II Men's Basketball varsity programs. There have been 15 different institutions to win a title in the 21-year history of this championship. Last year, Oregon Tech hoisted its third all-time national championship trophy after a 63-46 defeat of Northwood (Fla.).
College of the Ozarks is located just south of Branson and a short drive from Springfield. Waller, along with tournament co-director Candy Sullinger, organizes the tournament and the 700 volunteers that plan everything from sponsorships to NAIA Champions of Character program events. During the month of March, more than 500 NAIA student-athletes and coaches and approximately 25,000 fans enjoy the numerous attractions in one of the country's top vacation destinations.
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 Champions of Character, 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 II Men's Basketball, click here.