2016 CIAA Tournament Preview | Charlotte's got a lot | Charlotte NC Travel & Tourism
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CIAA Basketball Tournament Preview

Calling Charlotte home for more than a decade, the CIAA Men’s and Women’s Basketball Tournament is known as one of the nation’s premier sporting and cultural events. Comprised of 12 Historically Black Colleges and Universities, the Tournament will tip off at Time Warner Cable Arena Feb. 23-27, 2016.
Johnson C. Smith University and Virginia Union University hit the court.
Johnson C. Smith University and Virginia Union University hit the court.

The History

Founded in 1912, the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association (CIAA) is the nation’s first African-American athletic conference and one of the most recognized in Division II. The tournament comes to Charlotte during Black History Month, the perfect time to celebrate its rich history and vibrant future. The basketball tradition began in 1945 when the first men’s tournament was a 2,000-seat sellout in Washington, D.C. More than 70 years later, the CIAA Men’s and Women’s Basketball Tournament now boasts more than 150,000 fans during tournament week. Membership in the CIAA has changed over the years, but it has always consisted of HBCUs with strong traditions and school pride.

The current 12 member institutions include Bowie State University, Chowan University, Elizabeth City State University, Fayetteville State University, Lincoln University (Pennsylvania), Livingstone College, Saint Augustine's University, Shaw University, Virginia State University, Virginia Union University, Winston-Salem State University and Charlotte’s own Johnson C. Smith University.

The Games

The 71st Men’s Basketball Tournament and 42nd Women’s Basketball Tournament will take place at Time Warner Cable Arena over the course of the week. The men’s and women’s tournaments will be held simultaneously with their respective championship games being held on Saturday, Feb. 27. For access to all 22 of the action-packed games, fans can purchase an All-Session pass. All-Session passes begin at $50 (plus taxes and fees) and can be purchased online at Ticketmaster.com. Single session tickets range from $10-$60 (plus taxes and fees) and can be purchased on Ticketmaster.com. Group tickets or full suites are also available for purchase. More details and FAQs about tickets can be found at ciaatournament.org

Official CIAA Events

In addition to the excitement on the court, dozens of official CIAA celebrations are being held throughout the week in Charlotte, including the CIAA Toyota Fan Fest Live, step show competitions, a skate party and more. CIAA Fan Fest Live is a free, three-day fan experience, featuring performances by Fabolous, Rico Love and Tank as well as celebrity appearances, interactive activities and more from Feb. 25 to 27 at the Charlotte Convention Center (Halls A & B). On Feb. 25, fans can enjoy the CIAA Old School Skate Party at Kate’s Skating Rink and the CIAA Legends of Hip Hop Concert with performances by hip-hop icons EMPD, The Alumni, Chubb Rock, Monie Love, Dana Dane, Kwame and Special Ed at the Charlotte Convention Center (Hall C) followed by an After Party in the Crown Ballroom. 

On Feb. 26, steppers from fraternities and sororities representing CIAA's member schools and other HBCUs from around the country will compete at the CIAA Step Show Throwdown presented by McDonald’s – Greeks vs. Greeks. The show will be followed by the Alumni Step Show After Party, featuring DJ Jazzy Jeff and Kid Capri. On Feb. 27, some of the best step teams from high schools in Charlotte and across the country will compete in the CIAA Step Show Stepoff – School vs. School. Both step shows will be hosted by Diggy Simmons.

On Feb. 27, don’t miss McDonald’s Super Saturday, which is free and open to the public, at Time Warner Cable Arena. The event features the highly anticipated CIAA cheerleading exhibition and the crowning of the 2016 Food Lion Miss CIAA. The CIAA Coors Light Day Party will be at Rooftop 210 at the EpiCentre on Feb. 27. Closing out the week on Saturday night will be the CIAA Post Tournament Concert, featuring top R&B artists Mint Condition, Lyfe Jennings and Vivian Green and the Post-Tournament After Party, both at the Charlotte Convention Center. 

See the full schedule of events at ciaatournament.org.

CIAA in the Community 

The CIAA and its partners are committed to giving back to the community and will host Education Day for more than 5,000 middle and high school students. The day provides students with access to information and representatives from colleges and universities to help them explore opportunities after they graduate. The Food Lion Teen Summit, an interactive event that helps teens get ready for college and a career, is geared specifically towards high school juniors and seniors in the Charlotte area. New this year, the CIAA in partnership with the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), will host a ‘Finding Your Path to the Student Athlete Experience’ session to educate future student-athletes about competing at the collegiate level. The CIAA Career Expo provides employers, recruitment offices and graduate school recruiters with the opportunity to meet with graduation candidates, recent graduates and current students from CIAA member schools and other universities in the Charlotte area. This year the Career Expo will also be open to local residents of Charlotte.

Also during the tournament, CIAA Supports, a community initiative launched by the CIAA to give back to the cities hosting each championship, is partnering with community service initiatives like Samaritan’s Feet and Project Life in Charlotte. In partnership with Samaritan’s Feet and Coke Zero, CIAA will hold its second annual Shoes of Hope at Billingsville Elementary School and will provide up to 500 shoes to students. Project Life Movement in partnership with the CIAA, its student leaders and Novant Health will conduct bone marrow donation drives throughout the week. In September 2015, the CIAA became even more engrained in the Charlotte community when they relocated their conference headquarters to the Queen City from Hampton, Virginia. The CIAA offices are now located at Two Piedmont Town Center in the South Park area of Charlotte.