The Double-A, Reprised!

It’s time to Break It Down!

There are many current events that vied for todays post.  Pope Benedict transitions to, His Holiness Benedict XVI, Emeritus Pope at the end of tomorrow, lacking some unforseen miracle, the next round of budget malaise, otherwise known as, The Sequester, begins Friday, conservatives are still in apoplexy over First Lady, Michelle Obama, announcing Argo’s Oscar, in South Africa, another Oscar (Pistorius) finds himself embroiled in controversy after killing his girlfriend…(Reeva Steenkamp) on Valentine’s Day, and another Black History Month comes to a close tomorrow.  Alas, I opted for none of the above.

Instead, I chose to take a walk down memory lane.  Five years ago today I wrote a post about the venerable and vaunted Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association (CIAA) Tournament.  At the time the event was in its third year in Charlotte.  In honor of that post, and in recognition of the fact that the CIAA, Time Warner Arena (Formerly Bobcats’ Arena), and the Charlotte community are doing it again this week, I am reprising that edition. 

The Conference, which celebrated a century of great basketball last year also selected a new Commissioner in 2012; Ms. Jacqie Carpenter.  The conference’s first female Commissioner, was lured from the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), where she held down a number of responsible positions, including head of the Men’s NCAA Division I Championship.

The following information first appeared, as it does below, in the February 27, 2008 edition of “Break It Down!”          

Over the course of six months of blogging, I have come to accept the inescapable certainty of natural law. To wit, during holidays, there will be more recreating than reading. As a result, I have adopted a Prime Directive similar to that of James Tiberius Kirk, intrepid Captain of the USS Enterprise. My General Order #1 is, to take no action to interfere with the normal affairs of the readership.

I have it on good authority that this week, the attention, and schedule of many of the readers of this periodical will be focused on the 63rd edition of the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association (CIAA) Basketball Tournament. Now I can hear some saying what is that? Others are bemusedly thinking that is no holiday. And some are simply waiting for me to…Break It Down!

Well for starters, I will stipulate that for the next five weeks, Charlotte will be transformed into the center of the CBU, College Basketball Universe. The metamorphosis began on Monday, February 25th when the CIAA Women’s Tournament kicked-off at Bobcat’s Arena in Charlotte. The basketball and festivities, and there are a lot of both, conclude on Saturday, March 1st, with the crowning of both the 2008 Men’s, and Women’s Tournament Champions.

The Double-A, as the event is affectionately called, is not a battery, nor a shoe size. Neither is it really a holiday; it is actually a holi-week! I will address that later, in greater detail.

In less than two weeks after the CIAA packs it in, the vaunted Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) Tournament will take up residence at Bobcat’s Arena, as Charlotte hosts the Conference’s 55th Tournament, March 13th – 16th. Finally, after another much needed pause, the third in the trio of collegiate basketball sporting events, the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Eastern Regional Basketball Tournament takes center stage, also at Bobcat’s Arena, March 27th and 29th.

Most people, sports fans or not, are familiar with the NCAA Tournament. The phrase, The Road To The Final Four, has been oft repeated for many years. It’s a National phenomenon. The ACC Tournament now includes teams from Boston to Miami, and is also a widely popular brand, know throughout the Country. Fewer people know about the CIAA. But that does not diminish its appeal, success, or venerable history.

While many may find it surprising, the Double-A is older than the ACC Tournament. In fact, the Conference is much older than the ACC, having been established in 1912. The ACC was formed in 1953. The CIAA Tournament also boasts a level of success on par with its better known, younger counterpart. For the third year in a row, the event has sold out Bobcats Arena months in advance. Like the ACC, there are no general ticket sales. Tickets are allocated to member Institutions (the ten member colleges and universities), and sold through them.

The 2007 CIAA Tournament entertained 165,000 fans and patrons at its various events. To be sure, the CIAA is not just a basketball tournament. Its part reunion, part party, part history lesson, and all fun! The Conference has already reached an accord for a three-year extension, ensuring that Charlotte will host the event through 2011.

The Tournament features great men’s and women’s basketball. Several of the CIAA’s best have left, and continue to leave, their mark on the NBA. Vernon Earl “The Pearl” Monroe (Winston-Salem State University/Baltimore Bullets & New York Knicks), Alvin “Al” Attles (NC A&T State University/Philadelphia-San Francisco Warriors), Sam Jones (North Carolina Central University/Boston Celtics), Derrick “Rick” Mahorn (Hampton University/Detroit Pistons), Charles Oakley (Virginia Union University/New York Knicks), Ben Wallace (Virginia Union University/Detroit Pistons & Cleveland Cavaliers), Terry Davis (Virginia Union University/Dallas Mavericks), Ronald “Flip” Murray (Shaw University/Detroit Pistons), and Darrell Armstrong (Fayetteville State University/Orlando Magic, Dallas Mavericks, & Indiana Pacers) are all CIAA alumni.

There are currently ten member schools in the CIAA. Two more are scheduled to join, Lincoln University (Pennsylvania), and Chowan University (Murfreesboro, NC), for football only. The ranks currently include public and private colleges and universities in North Carolina, Virginia, and Maryland:

Member schools

Eastern Division

Bowie State University Elizabeth City State University Saint Paul’s College Virginia State University Virginia Union University

Western Division

Fayetteville State University Johnson C. Smith University Livingstone College Saint Augustine’s College Shaw University

Bowie State University

Location – Bowie, Maryland

Founded – 1865 Affiliation – Public Enrollment – 5,454

Nickname – Bulldogs

Varsity Sports – 11 Joined – 1979

Elizabeth City State University

Location – Elizabeth City, North Carolina

Founded – 1891 Affiliation – Public

Enrollment – 3,025 Nickname – Vikings

Varsity Sports – 10

Joined – 1957

Fayetteville State University

Location – Fayetteville, North Carolina

Founded – 1867 Affiliation – Public Enrollment – 6,085

Nickname – Broncos

Varsity Sports – 10 Joined – 1954

Johnson C. Smith University

Location – Charlotte, North Carolina

Founded – 1867 Affiliation – Private/Non-sectarian

Enrollment – 2,500

Nickname – Golden Bulls

Varsity Sports – 13 Joined – 1926

Livingstone College

Location – Salisbury, North Carolina

Founded – 1879 Affiliation – Private/African Methodist Episcopal Zion

Enrollment – 1,100

Nickname – Blue Bears

Varsity – 11

Joined – 1931

St. Augustine’s College

Location – Raleigh, North Carolina

Founded – 1867

Affiliation – Private/Episcopal

Enrollment – 1,700

Nickname – Falcons Varsity Sports – 14

Joined – 1933

Saint Paul’s College

Location – Lawrenceville, Virginia

Founded – 1888 Affiliation – Private/Episcopal

Enrollment – 750 Nickname – Tigers Varsity Sports – 14 Joined – 1923

Shaw UniversityLocation – Raleigh, North Carolina

Founded – 1865

Affiliation – Private/Baptist

Enrollment – 2,500

Nickname – Bears Varsity Sports – 13

Joined – 1912

Virginia State University

Location – Petersburg, Virginia

Founded – 1882

Affiliation – Public Enrollment – 4,300

Nickname – Trojans

Varsity Sports – 14 Joined – 1920

Virginia Union University

Location – Richmond, Virginia

Founded – 1865

Affiliation – Private/Baptist

Enrollment – 1,525

Nickname – Panthers Varsity Sports – 12

Joined – 1912

If you have never attended the Double-A, and have the opportunity, by all means do so. Just be advised, this is not your father’s Oldsmo…, I mean tournament. The activity is non-stop, and multi-dimensional. There are multiple venues, and it is common to see folks engaged in milling about, visiting, viewing exhibits, eating, watching people and a host of other endeavors…during games.

By the same token, there are staunch fans of the game who wouldn’t think of missing the action on the court. Fortunately for them, there is a virtual panoramic parade of activity going on inside the arena, ranging from Mr. CIAA, to cheerleaders of teams that have been eliminated, haven’t played yet, or just not playing at the time, but who are committed to providing their own fashion show.

As an alumnus of a CIAA constituent member institution, I am intensely interested because I have a stake in the outcome…no matter how much of a long shot it is. But I have found the event to be enjoyable and entertaining on its face. I am certain I would feel this way even were I not the proud owner of a degree from one of the schools…with no outstanding college loans.

The fun is just getting started. Catch it if you can. I am out; holla back!

Read my blog anytime by clicking the link: http://thesphinxofcharlotte.comor A new post is published each Wednesday.

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