By Nikki Sherrill, Athletic Communications & Media Intern
KANSAS CITY, Mo. – After just completing its 20th-straight year as host for the NAIA Division II Women's Basketball National Championship, the city of Sioux City earns a two-year extension to continue its duties. The Tyson Events Center will continue to serve as the venue for the event through 2019. The 2018 championship is slated to run March 7 – 13, while the 2019 event will take place March 6 – 12.
“Sioux City has been a tremendous partner to host this event for the NAIA,” said Jim Carr, NAIA President and CEO. “We are thrilled that we will be able to grow and develop this championship and our relationship with the city even deeper. We have seen exceptional success in our time there, and look forward to continuing to give our student-athletes the best experience possible.”
Sioux City has played host for this event since 1998, with next season's being the 21st-consecutive year. In 2008, the city also took over hosting duties for the NAIA Women's Volleyball National Championship and has been the home ever since.
"Extending our contract with the NAIA to over 20 years is very exciting," said NAIA Co-Tournament Director Corey Westra. "This tournament is one of the top highlights on the Sioux City calendar every year and this city continues to embrace this outstanding event and make it better every year."
The event includes 32 teams made up of automatic qualifiers who won their conference, and at-large berths as well as a host-berth. The teams compete in a single-elimination format over the course of six days. The bracket includes four quadrants which have seeds 1-8 in each segment. The national championship games take place Tuesday, and is available to watch on ESPN3.
Sioux City is currently the longest-standing active host for a championship out of all the NAIA events. The Baseball World Series and Division II Men's Basketball National Championships are close behind as they have been with their current hosts since 2000, 17-straight seasons. Baseball calls Lewiston, Idaho home, while Division II Men's Basketball has been played in Point Lookout, Mo. The Division I Men's Basketball National Championship has been hosted in Kansas City since 2002, making it 15 seasons.
“Hosting the NAIA Division II Women's Basketball National Championship every year has become incredibly valued by Sioux City,” said Erika Newton, Executive Director, Events and Facilities Department. “We are pleased to continue to work with the NAIA on this event, one that the entire community looks forward to. From the volunteers, to the sponsors, to the staff at the Tyson Events Center, this is a tournament we are all proud to be a part of.”
The state of Iowa knows a thing or two about hosting NAIA National Championships, as it has played host duties for 41 events since 1967 when Davenport, Iowa, hosted men's golf. Sioux City itself has been the destination for most of these championships, as it has hosted 32. Aside from volleyball and Division II women's, the city has hosted wrestling and softball. The state of Iowa will also be taking over hosting duties for two upcoming cross country championships, where Cedar Rapids will serve as hosts.
The Tyson Events Center is a multi-purpose arena sponsored by Tyson Foods. With one suite level and two general seating areas, the center serves as the perfect venue for a national championship as it seats 10,000 fans. The Sioux City Musketeers of the United States Hockey League and the Sioux City Bandits of the Champions Indoor Football league also call the Tyson home.
Throughout the time the championship has been held in Sioux City, 10 different programs have been named national champions. Northwestern (Iowa) has been crowned the champion the most in the Tyson, with five titles to its name. This past season, Marian earned its second-straight red banner after defeating Saint Xavier (Ill.), 66-52.
Currently, 135 member institutions participate in Division II Women's Basketball, represented by 12 conferences/independent institutions. Women's basketball divided into two divisions after the 1991 season, with 1992 being the first full season for Division II.
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 the 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 Women's Division II Basketball, click here.
To learn more about the host, City of Sioux City, click here.