Visit Billings and Rocky Mountain College announced the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) selected Billings, as the host community for the Division I Women’s Basketball Championship through 2020. The event, held in Billings in both 2017 and 2018 at MetraPark, was originally contracted through 2019, but the success of the previous tournaments lead the organization to extend through a fourth year.
“Basketball is where it all began for the NAIA,” said Jim Carr, NAIA President and CEO, “and we are grateful to have such a great host in Visit Billings that continues to help us showcase this premier sport.”
The 2019 Championship will be held March 13-19 and the 2020 event is scheduled for March 18-24, both at MetraPark.
“Billings, and Montana, couldn’t be more proud to host the amazing athletes of the NAIA,” said Alex Tyson, Visit Billings Executive Director. “What a privilege to be able to be part of another year of competing and celebrating the hard work and dedication of the NAIA’s incredible female athletes.”
Of the 94 NAIA sponsored DI Women’s Basketball programs, 32 will advance to the championship in Billings. And, after the 2020 tournaments, NAIA basketball divisions will merge into a singular division, meaning there will be NAIA Men’s Basketball and NAIA Women’s Basketball. The merge was approved by membership and the NAIA Council of Presidents during the 2018 NAIA National Convention.
“Billings is fortunate to continue to host this tournament as a 32-team format in 2019 and 2020. With the changes coming in 2021, only 16 teams will advance to the National Championships,” explains Tyson. “Visit Billings is eager to again work with Rocky Mountain College, MetraPark and all of our incredible partners, sponsors and volunteers to make the most of this final opportunity to host 32 teams, nearly 500 female athletes, and their coaches, families, and fans.”
The NAIA’s continued presence in Billings is the result of careful organization and hard work by Visit Billings, the Billings Tourism Business Improvement District, Rocky Mountain College and MetraPark. “The Billings business community has offered incredible support during the last two tournaments,” Tyson continued. “We appreciate the investment of every sponsor, honorary coach, and volunteer – including the title sponsor for 2017 and 2018, Wells Fargo.”