CIAA 2006: The Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association's Basketball Tournament

Article excerpt

When the 61st annual Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association (CIAA) basketball tournament begins on February 27, it will represent a new start for the tournament, one that, officials say, will ensure that the conference, its events and its members" scholastic benefits are maximized.

After six successful years at the RBC Center in Raleigh, N.C., this year's tournament moves to Charlotte, where one of sports' most popular and most highly anticipated gatherings will take place at Bobcats Arena, home of the NBA's Charlotte Bobcats. "The CIAA is proud of what we have been able to accomplish over the past six years as an organization," CIAA Commissioner Leon G. Kerry said. "We have grown our fan base geographically and demographically, allowing us to draw more CIAA alums and non-alumni to the tournament. The growth and marketing of the CIAA is ongoing, and we are working toward making the Charlotte experience bigger and better."

The CIAA, with its 12-member institutions, is the nation's oldest HBCU athletic conference. Its basketball tournament, a weeklong, "one-of-a-kind party," is the third-most-attended basketball tournament in collegiate athletics, trailing the Atlantic Coast Conference and the Southeastern Conference. It regularly attracts more than 100,000 attendees at its festivities, and it generated an estimated $12 million boost to the Raleigh economy last year.

More significantly, perhaps, is the fact that the monies raised through ticket sales, endowments, corporate sponsorships and vending helped to boost the scholarship fund. Last year's tournament generated about $800,000 for the general scholarship fund.

In the tournament's varied entertainment offerings this year, there is a new and much-anticipated addition. "The Apollo Presented by Coca-Cola," will feature Grammy Award-winning diva Patti LaBelle.

Back on the court, for the second year in a row, the tournament will get nationwide TV exposure on ESPN2 and ESPN Classic. Last year's telecast of tournament games represented the first time a Historically Black and University (HBCU) conference had gotten extensive coverage of its men's tournament on ESPN. The three-year deal with ESPN was signed, ESPN officials say, "to share the history and culture of the CIAA with millions."

That CIAA history and culture includes former legendary players like Earl (The Pearl) Monroe, Earl Lloyd, Charles Oakley and Ben Wallace. The respect for and the impact of the CIAA tournament has grown steadily since it was founded by John B. McLendon ("the father of Black basketball"), Talmadge Hall, John Burr and Harry Jefferson.

This new beginning in Charlotte is the continuation of an enduring tradition, one that combines quality basketball with a celebration of alumni and family.

IN MEMORIAM

In memory of the legendary Clarence (Big House) Gaines, who died April 18, 2005, the CIAA men's tournament award has been named in his honor. Gaines, who won nine CIAA tournament championships and one national title while at Winston-Salem State University, ended his amazing career with 828 victories, ranking him fifth in collegiate athletics behind Adolph Rupp, Dean Smith, Bobby Knight and Jim Phelan. "Coach Gaines embodied the qualities of leadership," says CIAA Commissioner Leon G. Kerry. "He inspired others to be the best that they could be without comprising their integrity." At last year's tournament, attendees also remembered John B. McLendon, one of the tournament's founders.

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Many of us consume more calories than we need without meeting the recommended intake for vital nutrients. Beverages are usually the last thing on our minds when planning our meals and snacks.

Maintaining a healthy lifestyle involves balancing physical activity, making smart, hearthealthy choices and staying hydrated.

Some juices and juice drinks are fortified with nutrients often lacking in our diet, such as bone-building calcium and vitamin D. …