With COVID-19 precautions overshadowing annual tournament plans, the CIAA has had to get creative. For the first time in its history, the organization will have a virtual tournament. However, with celebrity hosts, cool sponsor experiences, and more set in place it seems it won’t be any less fun! Get more full details below from The Times And Democrat.
The Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association, the nation’s oldest historically Black athletic conference, in partnership with Visit Baltimore, announced its first-ever virtual tournament.
The week-long celebration will be tabbed the CIAA Virtual Vibe: Tournament Edition and takes place from Feb. 23-27, traditionally known as CIAA Basketball Tournament week. The CIAA Virtual Vibe marks the tournament’s 76th annual celebration of HBCU championship basketball, sports and culture.
Free registration for the tournament is now open at https://ciaatournament.vfairs.com/.
“The CIAA Virtual Tournament Week will give the fans a legitimate alternative to the historic tournament,” Director of Athletics Tony O’Neal said. “Given the nature of the pandemic, the virtual tournament week will provide students, alumni, and fans with some of the tournament feel until we can return in-person next year.”
The CIAA Virtual Vibe: Tournament Edition will feature a Baltimore-themed interactive virtual platform that will help welcome fans to the “Charm City” while showcasing a host of events, including several that serve as cornerstones of tournament week. These include the always popular CIAA Fan Fest presented by Nationwide and the CIAA Step Show presented by McDonald’s, plus community engagement mainstays High School Education Day presented by the U.S. Army and Career Expo presented by Toyota.
The virtual experience, hosted by comedians B. Simone, Darren Brand and Burpie, will also offer a collection of new events, including an Old School/New School DJ Battle presented by Sprite and the CIAA Esports Tournament presented by Bayer Pharmaceuticals. These events, along with performances by national recording artists and celebrity appearances, will celebrate the legacy and tradition of the CIAA and its member institutions while highlighting the nostalgia and cultural significance of the CIAA Tournament.
“We are thrilled to be able to create this virtual tournament week experience, which will be one of a kind for an NCAA athletic conference at any level, to engage our fans, alumni, students, member institutions, and partners,” CIAA Commissioner Jacqie McWilliams said. “Despite no in-person activity or games being played, this is a great opportunity to expand our reach beyond the 150,000-plus fans that annually convene in our host city during tournament week and expose new audiences to the legacy and rich tradition of this conference while introducing the many elements that embody the CIAA Tournament experience and highlighting the cultural impact it has on our community as a whole.”
Accompanying this experience is a new theme, “The Legacy Lives On,” which will be highlighted in social media and marketing campaigns as well as custom memorabilia as the conference transitions (virtually) to the new host city of Baltimore.
“Visit Baltimore was extremely excited about bringing the tournament experience to Charm City this year, so we’re grateful the Virtual Tournament Week allows us to partner with the CIAA in this new capacity. While we’ll have to celebrate the incredible academic contributions, culture, and sports legacy of HBCUs from afar this year, we can’t wait to welcome CIAA athletes and fans to Baltimore as soon as it’s safe,” said Al Hutchinson, president and CEO at Visit Baltimore.
Access to the CIAA Virtual Vibe is free, but registration is required. Those interested in taking part in this unique virtual experience are encouraged to register early as space is limited. Accompanying the registration information is the tentative schedule of events, which can also be found at www.ciaatournament.org.