College of the Ozarks Extends Partnership for Division II MBB Championship
Story written by Spencer Scheve, Communications and Sports Information Intern
KANSAS CITY, Mo. – The National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) has announced an extension with College of the Ozarks to host the 2018 and 2019 NAIA Division II Men’s Basketball National Championships in Point Lookout, Mo. The National Championship has been held in Point Lookout since 2000 and the current contract is to include the 2017 event on March 8-14 in Keeter Gymnasium.
“The NAIA is very pleased to extend our partnership with College of the Ozarks and the Branson community for another two years through 2019," said Jim Carr, NAIA President and CEO. “All of the organizers behind the Division II Men's Basketball National Championship shoulthe d be applauded for their efforts to make this a very special experience for the student-athletes, teams, parents and fans.. We appreciate the commitment and dedication of the Branson community to put forth an extraordinary event such as this.”
The 2018 national championship will be held March 7 -- 13, and the 2019 event is scheduled for March 6 – 12. 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 2017 championship will be the 18th-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.
“We are extremely pleased to have the opportunity to continue hosting the NAIA DII Men’s Basketball National Championship at College of the Ozarks through 2019,” said Dori Rapinchuk, co-championship director. “This event is a winning partnership for all involved—the NAIA, College of the Ozarks, our community, and the teams and fans who attend.”
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 an “off” day on Sunday. The semifinals are scheduled for Monday, prior to the national championship final on Tuesday, March 14.
“Hosting the championship allows us to showcase the many unique aspects of Hard Work U® and introduce visitors to the countless family-oriented attractions and activities available in the Branson/Tri-Lakes area,” said Rapinchuk. “Visiting teams and fans are provided the opportunity to experience action-packed NAIA college hoops action while also enjoying the incredible hospitality and beauty of the Ozarks.”
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 134 NAIA Division II Men’s Basketball varsity programs. There have been 17 different institutions to win a title in the 25-year history of this championship. Last year, Indiana Wesleyan claimed its second title in the last three years with a 69-66 victory over Saint Francis (Ind.).
College of the Ozarks is located just south of Branson and a short drive from Springfield, Mo. The tournament leadership team organizes the event, including sponsorships, NAIA Champions of Character program events, and hundreds of volunteers. 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.