The CIAA (Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association) Men’s and Women’s basketball tournament is returning to Baltimore in 2023 along with a variety of high-profile events. It will be held in Baltimore until 2025.
Jacqie McWilliams Parker, the first female to serve as commissioner for the CIAA, and first appointed African-American female commissioner representing the NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association) Division I, II and III, provides leadership for 12 member institutions. She completed 10 years working with the CIAA.
“This will be my 11th basketball tournament, so I’m in my 11th season of championships. I’ve been in the industry for almost 30 years in athletic administration,” McWilliams Parker said.
She also implements the strategic plan for the conference. Baltimore successfully hosted the CIAA in-person championship game in 2022. McWilliams Parker explained that the CIAA’s headquarters is located in Charlotte, North Carolina. Charm City will be hosting the 2023 Tournament Week from February 21-25, 2023. Baltimore’s submission of a very aggressive bid led to the tournament’s current venue relocation, according to the commissioner.
“We had several other cities to bid as well. We were in Charlotte for 15 years, but the key for us was having a venue that we could have our event in the entire week, to be in a community where it was easy for our fans to get around, to be in a community that would embrace the CIAA African American HBCU culture of who we are, to have hotels giving us quality rates, and availability of venues,” McWilliams Parker said.
The commissioner explained that approximately 30 events will happen, beyond the basketball games.
“We need a space and a community that’s really going to embrace us and wants to be a part of it,” McWilliams Parker said.
According to the commissioner, despite COVID-19 constraints, an economic impact survey revealed that over 66,000 fans attended over 22 CIAA games in Baltimore’s inaugural time hosting the basketball tournament. She added that the economic impact was $13.9 million.
This year, teams consisting of men and women will play at the CFG Bank Arena in Baltimore, Maryland, located at 201 W Baltimore St. CIAA teams will include Bowie State University, Claflin University, Elizabeth City State University, Fayetteville State University, Lincoln University, Johnson C. Smith University, Shaw University, Livingstone College, Virginia State University, St. Augustine’s University, Virginia Union University and Winston-Salem State University, per the NCAA’s website.
McWilliams Parker mentioned that for the second year, there will be a mix of women and men commentators. The CIAA men’s and women’s tournaments will air on ESPN’s networks. Fans may purchase tickets through Ticketmaster or through the CIAA’s tournament website.
“We’re excited. I think the big piece for us is we’re in Black History Month which is exciting. This is a time where we get to celebrate our culture, but our tournament is the first event that’s happening heading into March Madness for basketball, and it’s the most visible event that’s happening in the country, the third largest basketball tournament in the country.”
McWilliams Parker said that the Tournament Week will offer something for everyone. A series of diverse events range from empowerment events, a youth cheer clinic and a health and mental wellness summit to parties and a step show. Visit Baltimore will be holding a youth sports clinic on February 18, 2023. The 2023 CIAA Education Day will allow attendees to meet with various college recruiters on February 22, 2023, from 10-2 p.m. at the Baltimore Convention Center. A 2023 CIAA Career Expo will be held at the same location on February 23, 2023, from 10-2 p.m. Organizations will be able to meet recent graduates, individuals who are switching careers, and students from the CIAA member-schools and other universities.
Some CIAA events require registration or tickets. The CIAA Fan Fest is a two-day free event that will be held at the Baltimore Convention Center on February 24-25, 2023. Concerts and family-friendly entertainment events will be held.
“It is free and open to the public. We love it when the community gets engaged,” McWilliams Parker said.
Title IX’s 50th anniversary will also be celebrated. Title IX is the federal civil rights law that eliminated gender discrimination at colleges and universities. The commissioner explained that it allowed women to play sports and to participate and have scholarships, just as the boys and the men do.
“And so, for us, we are celebrating Title IX to remind our conference and the world that we see our women, we see the trailblazers,” McWilliams Parker said.
She added that it is an opportunity to celebrate the men and women who have opened doors for her and others. McWilliams Parker wants equity and opportunity in sports for both men and women. She played volleyball and basketball at Hampton University before furthering her education at Temple University.
In her role as commissioner, McWilliams Parker reflected on the CIAA’s previous roots as the Colored Intercollegiate Athletic Association. It has been recognized as the oldest historically Black conference in the United States. McWilliams Parker explained that it was founded in 1912 by five institutions to give access to Black Americans to play sports.
“So, our job is really to create lifetime experiences and championships and give these student-athletes an opportunity to win conference championships, and then play in NCAA Division II National Championships. They have to earn their way, but that’s our job to give them the intercollegiate experience, not just play, but also get their degree while they’re playing so that they can be greater citizens in life,” McWilliams Parker said.
Visit and to obtain more information about to about upcoming CIAA games, tickets and events in Baltimore. BT

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