NAIA Looks Back on Rich Basketball History; Will Re-Air 2018 Title Game

Men's Basketball - Graceland University

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – While an unforeseen set of circumstances have canceled the 2020 NAIA Division I Basketball Championships, which were set to be played on Tuesday evening, the association is looking back at its rich history of firsts in the landscape of collegiate basketball to mark the occasion.

The 2020 tournament would have been the 83rd men's championship, the first collegiate basketball tournament of its kind. Its creation spawned other tournaments that are similar and bigger in scope, but none that embody the tradition and the difficulty of this championship.

The first champion was Central Missouri Teacher's (Now Central Missouri State), held in 1937. From that that time to now, the NAIA has been a leader and innovator in both basketball and college sports.

The association was not only the first to break the color barrier, but also the first to allow African-American student-athletes to compete in the championship and the first to allow historically black colleges and universities (HBCU's) to join the association.

Tonight's game would have also marked the 75th in Kansas City, a tradition that has become part of the heartbeat of the region. As we yearn for games to be played, and the wide range of emotion that comes with, it to begin filtering back into society, we look back at how the tournament evolved and how its format was a throwback to a different time.

To commemorate tonight's scheduled championship, we will re-air the thrilling 2018 Division I Men's Basketball Championship game featuring Graceland (Iowa) and LSU Alexandria (La.) Click HERE to watch at 8pm CT!

In partnership with KJO Media in Kansas City, the NAIA presents a brief documentary of the history and tradition of NAIA Basketball. Click HERE to watch!

Championship Information

NAIA DI Men's Basketball Championship

March 18-23, 2021
Municipal Auditorium
Kansas City, Mo.