Local News

N.C. Central Saying Goodbye to CIAA Tournament

Posted February 28, 2007 10:26 p.m. EST
Updated March 1, 2007 9:52 a.m. EST

— North Carolina Central University fans are getting ready for a big change in their postseason plans. N.C. Central is about to be re-classified as a Division I university in the NCAA, meaning they’ll say goodbye to the CIAA.

N.C. Central Eagles fans are savoring every minute of their time at the Bobcats arena in uptown Charlotte this week, as they watch their team's last run in the CIAA tournament. With enrollment jumping more than 50 percent over the last four years, the move to Division I is a product of its own success.

“We've been in it for so many years,” said N.C. Central alum Wanda Baker. “I'm just sad, I really am.”

“I wish we could stay here another year but that's the way it goes, moving up in life,” said N.C. Central alum Roy Hunt.

The Eagles are slated to join the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference next season. Marion Herman said she’s not a fan of the move.

Even though I’ll go to the (Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference tournament), it won't be because I want to,” Herman said.

Other fans said this week is bittersweet.

“My husband and I always come,” said N.C. Central alum Carolyn Thomas. “We consider this our winter vacation.”

CIAA commissioner Leon Kerry said based on conference figures, an estimated 55 percent of people who attend the CIAA are not alums.

“If you played in the CIAA at N.C. Central, you want to see people, you went to school with or played with in the CIAA, that's where they're going to be,” Kerry said.

Many of the fans said even though the Eagles will no longer be part of the conference, that doesn't mean they're taking the CIAA tournament off their social calendar. After all, this isn't just a basketball showdown, it's a showcase for longtime friendships.

The Eagles will join another former CIAA school in the MEAC. Winston-Salem State moved up to Division I last year. The MEAC tournament tips off in Raleigh next week.