INDIANAPOLIS - More than 800 NCAA Division II student-athletes will compete for six national championships when the NCAA, in conjunction with Rice University and the Harris County-Houston Sports Authority, hosts the 2008 NCAA Division II National Championships Festival, May 13-17, in Houston, Texas.
The festival, which is structured similar to an Olympic-type event, will feature 70 teams competing for NCAA titles in men’s and women’s golf; men’s and women’s tennis; women’s lacrosse and softball in one geographical location.
This is the third national championships festival hosted by Division II, which is the first and only NCAA division to host a multiple championships festival. Division II held its first festival in spring 2004 in Orlando, Fla., and conducted a fall-sports festival in November 2006 in Pensacola, Fla. In addition to the 2008 festival in Houston, the NCAA recently announced an inaugural winter-sports edition for 2009 – also in Houston – for March 11-14.
“The Division II National Championship Festival is an ideal example of how intercollegiate athletics can enhance the educational experience of student-athletes by building community – in this case across a number of sports platforms,” said NCAA president Myles Brand. “The festival is one of the jewels of the NCAA, specifically focused on Division II student-athletes, its colleges and universities. Everyone is looking forward to a great experience and most importantly, supporting the student-athletes.”
The goals of the Division II National Championships Festival are to enhance the student-athlete collegiate experience; create more awareness and exposure for Division II sports; and increase attendance by hosting multiple championships in one location.
“The festival not only portrays the best of Division II, but also it supports the greater mission of the Association,” said Stephen Jordan, president of Metropolitan State College of Denver and Division II Presidents Council chair. “We are investing in the education of student-athletes and the development of young adults into productive citizens and community members. The festival experience allows the student-athletes to participate in exciting competition and add to the rewarding experiences that make up their collegiate experiences.”
Student-athletes competing at the festival will have the opportunity to participate in opening and closing ceremonies, as well as attend other championships and support their peers while competing for titles in their own sport. There also will be social activities for the student-athletes at the end of each day’s competition. NCAA will also host a fan festival Wednesday through Saturday from 11 am to 7 pm, which is another unique aspect to the sports festival experience.
Houston’s Memorial Park, one of America’s largest urban park expanses, will be the location for each of the sporting competitions and student-athlete activities.
Many of the athletic competitions will be featured online via live coverage and highlight videos, as well as select championship broadcasts on CBS College Sports and regional syndication.
With Division II’s strong focus on community engagement as a pillar of its membership values, the festival will include several opportunities for student-athletes, athletics administrators and fans to participate in volunteer opportunities to benefit the Houston-area community.
NCAA Division II student-athletes, NCAA staff, Division II governance officials and local volunteers will join forces to build 10 Habitat for Humanity houses in partnership with families displaced by hurricanes in the Houston area. The Habitat builds in Houston will be the single largest to date in total number of homes built in one location through the NCAA’s partnership with Habitat. The builds will take place at Memorial Park and the Umland Park subdivision in South Houston throughout the four-day festival.
Other community activities include several opportunities to reach Houston-area youth and promote positive educational experiences. The NCAA will host youth sports clinics for more than 1,200 Houston-area elementary and middle school students. The clinics will be held at Memorial Park during the festival in conjunction with the Houston Independent School District (HISD) and the Houston Community Center.
Also in conjunction with HISD, the NCAA is offering Sporting Geography curriculum programs, which emphasize state requirements and guidelines for social studies and math education in grades four through eight. Nearly 70 Houston-area classrooms and more than 5,700 students have registered to participate in the program.
In addition, the NCAA will host Youth Lacrosse All Star Games that will include 80 middle school and high school student-athletes. All 80 participants will be recognized on the field during the halftime of the Division II lacrosse championship.
NCAA Division II is one of the three membership divisions within the NCAA, which comprises more than 1,300 institutions, conferences and affiliated organizations. Division II is a group of institutions and conferences that serve more than 75,000 student-athletes nationwide, including in Alaska, Hawaii and Puerto Rico. The emphasis for the student-athlete experience in Division II is a comprehensive program of learning and development. The Division II approach provides growth opportunities through academic achievement, learning in high-level athletic competition and the development of societal attitudes in service to the community. The balance and integration of these different areas of learning provide Division II student-athletes with a path to graduation while cultivating a variety of skills and knowledge for life ahead.