KANSAS CITY – The National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) announced that Sioux City, Iowa and the Tyson Events Center would become the host of the 2021 NAIA Women’s Basketball National Championship on Thursday. The first women’s basketball championship to occur after both divisions I and II are set to merge in the fall of 2020. The new agreement will span four years through the championship in 2024.
“Sioux City has displayed a remarkable commitment to the NAIA in hosting the Division II Women’s Basketball National Championship since 1998, and the NAIA is excited to extend that partnership as we transition to one division in basketball in 2021,” said Kelli Briscoe, Senior Manager of Championship Events at the NAIA. “The Sioux City community, tournament staff and volunteers have been unparalleled in providing our student-athletes, teams and fans a one-of-a-kind national championship experience and the NAIA is looking forward to building upon that tradition as we usher in a new era of NAIA basketball.”
On April 16 of 2018, the NAIA Council of Presidents voted to approve the merger of both divisions, signaling the change in postseason beginning in the 2020-21 academic year.
Sioux City now becomes the first to be awarded the NAIA Basketball Championship after the merger.
“From the very beginning of the move to one division in NAIA Basketball, Sioux City wanted to remain a host site for the Women’s Championship,” said Corey Westra, current NAIA DII Women’s Basketball Co-Tournament Director. “March and NAIA Basketball in Sioux City is a tradition here and we wanted to keep that tradition going with one division in the NAIA.”
Sioux City, Iowa is the current home to the NAIA D-II Women’s Basketball National Championship and has been since the 1998 season. The new deal ensures that NAIA Women’s Basketball will continue to crown a champion through March of 2024.
“As NAIA Basketball goes to one division we know we will provide a great home for the Championship in Sioux City,” mentioned Westra. “With over 20 years of tradition and hosting, we know we can continue to provide a first class experience for the student-athletes of the NAIA. Our local tournament committee is committed to making this an outstanding event for the participants, fans, and teams of the NAIA. With our long standing sponsors and volunteer base, we stand ready to host a first class basketball tournament in one division starting in 2021.”
With the change to one division comes a change to the format as 16 host sites from around the country will host an NAIA Opening Round tournament. The champion of each opening round will make-up the 16-team field final site at the Tyson Events Center. Currently, 32 teams qualify for play in Sioux City.
“We look forward to welcoming the 16 qualifying teams into Sioux City after the (opening) round of 64 is completed, Westra stated. “These teams will come to Sioux City with two wins in hand and the games will be high level and extremely competitive from the very first tip-off. We hope to expand the already outstanding media coverage of the event and know that all eyes will be on Sioux City as NAIA Women’s Basketball teams compete for the national title. Playing in the Tyson Events Center on the big stage will bring a high-level end to the season and fans will be in for the most exciting basketball of the season in March.”