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Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association
Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association

The Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association (CIAA) is a collegiate athletic conference, mostly consisting of historically black colleges and universities. CIAA institutions are affiliated at the Division II level of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA).

Conference members are primarily located in North Carolina (eight) and Virginia (two). There is one school in Maryland, Pennsylvania and South Carolina respectively. Because a majority of the members are in North Carolina, the CIAA moved its headquarters to Charlotte, North Carolina from Hampton, Virginia in August 2015.[1]

The CIAA sponsors 16 annual championships and is divided into Northern and Southern divisions for some sports. The most notable CIAA sponsored championship is the CIAA Basketball Tournament held annually in Charlotte, North Carolina which has become one of the largest college basketball events in the nation.


The CIAA, founded on the campus of Hampton Institute (now Hampton University) in 1912, is the oldest African-American athletic conference in the United States. It was originally known as the Colored Intercollegiate Athletic Association and adopted its current name in December 1950. The conference is composed predominantly of Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) spanning the east coast from Pennsylvania to South Carolina.

Founding leaders were Allen Washington and C.H. Williams of Hampton Institute; Ernest J. Marshall of Howard University; George Johnson of Lincoln University (PA); W.E. Atkins, Charles Frazier, and H.P. Hargrave of Shaw University; and J.W. Barco and J.W. Pierce of Virginia Union University.[2]

Football is experiencing a major resurgence after going through a period of decline at several member universities. Football was absent from the campus of Saint Augustine's University for nearly three decades, before getting reinstated by the administration in 2002. Shaw University then brought back its football program in 2003, following a hiatus of 24 years.

Lincoln University, a charter member, added varsity football in 2008 and was readmitted to the CIAA after nearly three decades in Division III. Chowan University joined the CIAA in 2008 for football only. On October 14, 2008, the CIAA Board of Directors admitted Chowan as a full member effective July 1, 2009, the first non-HBCU to play in the conference.

On August 27, 2012, the CIAA announced the appointment of Jacqie Carpenter, the first African-American female commissioner to hold the position.[3]

In 2014, a collection of records, including the original 1912 documents leading to the formation of the CIAA and meeting minutes from 1913 to 1922, were sold at auction after being discovered in a storage locker. The lot sold for $11,500 to an unnamed bidder.[4]

On May 22, 2018, Chowan University announced its athletic department will realign with the Conference Carolinas as a full-member while maintaining an associate relationship with the CIAA for both football and women's bowling.[5]

Conference membership

  • Chowan — football was an affiliate member in 2008–09.
  • Chowan University will realign with the Conference Carolinas for most sports beginning in the 2019-2020 school year while maintaining an associate membership with the CIAA for both football and women's bowling. (The Hawks currently compete as an associate member of Conference Carolinas in nine sports)

Full member (all sports)   Full member (non-football)   Associate member (football-only)   Associate member (sport)


  • Chowan University currently competes as an associate member of Conference Carolinas in baseball and men's tennis, as well as three other men's sports not sponsored by the CIAA.
  • ‡ — D-I sport
  • Chowan University currently competes as an associate member of Conference Carolinas in women's tennis, plus four other women's sports not sponsored by the CIAA.

Conference facilities

CIAA Basketball Tournament

The CIAA is the first NCAA Division II conference to have its tournament televised as part of Championship Week on ESPN. Over 100,000 fans and spectators are in attendance annually and it has become one of the largest college basketball events in the nation. During the week of the tournament, there are many high-profile social and celebratory events to entertain the thousands of alumni, students, and spectators in Charlotte, North Carolina.[6][7] The last day of the tournament is known as "Super Saturday" in which the men's and women's tournament champions are crowned. The tournament has an annual $55 million economic impact on Charlotte and is the largest event held in the city each year.[8] The event will be moving to Baltimore, Maryland in 2021.[9]

CIAA cheerleading

One of the signature events of "Super Saturday" at the CIAA Basketball Tournament is the Cheer Exhibition. At the exhibition, CIAA cheer squads showcase elaborate themes and routines to entertain fans and display their talents.[12][13] Every cheerleading team in the CIAA is a "Stomp-N-Shake" squad which is a unique style of cheer that is most common among predominately African-American schools and colleges located in the East Coast region

The CIAA is one of the only conferences in the country that has an annual All-Conference Cheerleading Team. The All-Conference Cheerleading Team is a recognition bestowed on select cheerleaders in the conference that exemplify the epitome of school spirit, leadership, community involvement, and academic excellence.[14]

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