The National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) has announced an extension with College of the Ozarks to host the 2016 and 2017 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 with College of the Ozarks has the 2015 event scheduled for March 11 – 17 in Keeter Gymnasium.
“The NAIA is very excited to extend for another two years with College of the Ozarks and the whole Branson community," said Jim Carr, NAIA President and CEO. “There are numerous reasons that the Division II Men's Basketball National Championship has called College of the Ozarks home since 2000 -- which all revolve around the student-athlete experience and the exciting game-day environment. The entire community rolls out the red carpet for participants and fans and we want to sincerely thank our hosts for creating that best-in-class atmosphere."
The 2016 national championship will be held March 9 – 15, and the 2017 event is scheduled for March 8 – 14. 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 2015 championship will be the 16th-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 NAIA have partnered well together over the past fifteen years to provide a quality, memorable national championship experience for the student-athletes,” said Dori Rapinchuk, co-championship director. “Our campus community, area volunteers and sponsors from the Branson/Tri-Lakes area, help to make the championship an incredible experience for the athletes, fans, and our community as a whole. We look forward to continuing to work together in bringing exceptional quality and hospitality to the NAIA Division II Men’s Basketball National Championship in the years ahead.”
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 17.
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 23-year history of this championship. Last year, Indiana Wesleyan claimed its first hardware with a 78-68 victory over Midland (Neb.).
College of the Ozarks is located just south of Branson and a short drive from Springfield. Director of Athletics and co-tournament director Al Waller, along with Rapinchuk, organize 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. College of the Ozarks has seen attendance boosts that spanned the last three years with an 18% increase.
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.