The National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) has announced their selections for the first year of the NAIA National Championship Host Excellence Awards. Seven honors were awarded to championship site hosts that have shown excellence during the 2016-17 school year.
“We know just how much hard work goes into hosting NAIA championships so we want to make sure we honor that effort,” said Jim Carr, NAIA President and CEO. “This, year we had a great group of hosts and are pleased to announce the winners who did an excellent job of creating the right atmosphere, handling difficult issues, and working well alongside our staff to put forth great events for our student-athletes.”
College of the Ozarks was named the award recipient for “Best NAIA Student-Athlete Championship Experience Event.” The College has served as the host of the NAIA DII Men’s Basketball National Championship for the past 18 years.
The hallmark to NAIA championship events is the opening student-athlete experience. The event is expected to create a memorable experience for the student-athletes as well as being a showcase for the host city.
Branson’s Dixie Stampede annually hosts this event the evening before the championship’s first game. Dixie welcomes the 32 teams, their fans, and representatives of the NAIA and College of the Ozarks, providing a hearty feast and engaging entertainment.
“College of the Ozarks is honored to receive this award from the NAIA,” said Dori Rapinchuk, College of the Ozarks tournament co-director. “We strive to do the best job possible in all aspects of hosting the NAIA DII Men’s Basketball National Championship, and we have had great success thanks to the remarkable support of our community sponsors and volunteers. The applause for this specific award, however, should be directed to our amazing sponsor of the Tip-Off Banquet—Dixie Stampede. Dixie excitedly came on board with us for our first NAIA Championship in 2000, and they have continued through the years to provide an incredible venue—tipping off the championship in a big way for all of our participating teams and their fans.”
“Hosting the Tip-Off Banquet is our favorite special event of the year, and a great way to kick off the Spring season for Branson,” shared Bryan Cossiboom, General Manager of Dixie Stampede. “Sponsoring as an honorary coach is a rare privilege. We get to know these young men, become a part of their program for a week, and have even had players from the early years return with their families. We are very proud to be affiliated with such a fine program and look forward to many more years to come.”
College of the Ozarks is contracted to continue hosting the NAIA DII Men’s Basketball National Championship through 2019, with next year’s championship scheduled for March 7-13, 2018.
For information about the NAIA Championship hosted by College of the Ozarks, contact the College of the Ozarks’ Athletic Office at 417-690-2565.