CIAA Tournament 2020 Is Charlotte’s Last Dance

After 15 years in Charlotte, the CIAA tournament is officially relocating to Baltimore in 2021. This year’s tournament is the final dance in Charlotte as well as the 75th Anniversary of the tournament. 

The selection of Baltimore marks the first new location for the CIAA Basketball Tournament since 2005. This will be the second time the city has hosted since 1952. 

It was Baltimore’s vision of how CIAA basketball could be woven into the fabric of the city that made this location stand out from the rest. And most importantly their commitment to providing scholarships for the CIAA institutions and overall support of the hotel and business communities.

But this weekend, CIAA Commissioner Jacqie McWilliams didn’t want to concentrate on next year. When the Shadow League spoke with her on the opening night of the CIAA Men’s & Women’s Tournament, she insisted on immersing herself in the moment. 

And we all know what that moment is like. McWilliams danced with marching bands, flexed her moves and kept a high profile this week.

“It’s a national meeting place for African-Americans from all over the globe,” Williams told The Shadow League

Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association – the country’s first African-American sports conference  – and its unique basketball championship has grown into a multi-faceted celebration of sports, Black culture and business with its varied events designed to connect people. 

Tournament week includes a diverse combination of official events beyond the basketball including a Minority Business & Leadership Symposium, Step shows, concerts and marching band competitions, a fan fest, a celebrity basketball game and community giveback activities.

It draws almost 150,000 students, alumni basketball fans (and even non-sports fans) of all ages to this merging and meshing of Black culture. 

In fact, the event has gotten so big that last year it generated more money for Charlotte than the ACC Tournament did just weeks later.

McWilliams is in her 7th season of serving as the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association (CIAA) Commissioner.  She’s the first female to serve as Commissioner for the CIAA and first appointed African American Commissioner out of 100 Conferences representing NCAA Division I, II and III.  

She’s navigated the Conference through troubled waters in the past and wants to see it continue to prosper economically.

“it’s about continuing with the mission of the CIAA and building towards the future,” McWilliams said, allowing everyone to join in the history of the conference.” 

This year was no different as the sports festivities meshed with the DJs, social media influencers and performers from Rick Ross to Plies, and a host of other celebrities who are HBCU alumni or just come to join the party. 

The CIAA 75th Anniversary performances at the Spectrum Center included Avant on Feb. 28 and Musiq Soulchild and Rapsody on Feb. 29.

The CIAA Toyota Fan Fest is a free, two-day CIAA Toyota Fan Fest which also began on Feb, 28  at the Charlotte Convention Center and Saturday, featuring interactive sponsor activations, concerts and other family-friendly entertainment including Layton Greene, Carl Thomas, SWV and Charlotte’s Krypto09095

As far as on the court, on Friday, the Fayetville State Broncos shutout Johnson C. Smith’s all-league guard Cayse Minor in the first half, then held off a late charge by the Golden Bulls to pull out a 56-48 victory in the semifinals of the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association tournament on Friday.

The upset of the CIAA Southern Division champion Golden Bulls (20-8) sends FSU (24-7) into Saturday’s 3 p.m. final against Winston-Salem State at the Spectrum Center. T

The Broncos have only won the CIAA tournament once in the 75-year history, but that occurred 46 years ago.

Today, things get going with Super Saturday, then great music at Toyota Fan Fest and cap it all off with Bowie State Vs. Fayetteville State in the women’s title game and then Fayetteville State Vs. Winston Salem State University for the crown on the men’s side.

JR Gamble joined The Shadow League in 2012. The General Manager of Content & Social Media is in his 25th year of covering sports and culture professionally. He has covered a wide variety of major sports and entertainment topics across different mediums, including radio, newspapers, magazines and national TV. His passion is baseball, the culturing of baseball and preserving and documenting the historically-impactful accomplishments and contributions of African-Americans in baseball.