CIAA leaders want the community to participate in tournament - | WBTV Charlotte

CIAA leaders want the community to participate in tournament

(Source: WBTV/File) (Source: WBTV/File)
About 6,000 students from the area showed up to hear from colleges about options after graduating from high school. (Dedrick Russell | WBTV) About 6,000 students from the area showed up to hear from colleges about options after graduating from high school. (Dedrick Russell | WBTV)
CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) -

The Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association (CIAA) had Education Day on Wednesday at the Convention Center in uptown Charlotte. It's an annual event at the popular basketball tournament.

About 6,000 students from the area showed up to hear from colleges about options after graduating from high school. Students from different races attended the event.

Kenneth Willis, a teacher at East Mecklenburg High School, brought about 50 students to Education Day. He said the majority were African Americans, but he did bring students from other races.

"The CIAA is for anybody and everybody that wants to be educated," Willis said.

CIAA organizers are using Education Day to emphasize that the tournament is not just for the black community, but all are welcomed.

"That isn't a color thing," CIAA Education Day Chairperson Raukell Robinson said, "it's a CIAA thing."

Robinson believes the community should check out the games since the community pitched in about $1.4 million this year for college scholarships for CIAA students.

"Those dollars don't have a color on them," Robinson said. "Scholarship dollars go to students in need, and our students are worthy of that."

CIAA Commissioner Jacqie McWilliams has said the tournament moved its headquarters to Charlotte to be part of the community. She hopes the community can now be part of the CIAA basketball games.

"Everybody likes basketball," Willis said. "You look at an NBA game you would see Asians, people from all these different countries."

Leaders say the CIAA sponsors are diverse, and tournament leaders think the crowds should be diverse too. CIAA sponsors say the community should also support the tournament because the CIAA stayed in Charlotte when other sporting events left because of the controversial bathroom bill known as HB2.

"We hope that the audience and the fans will come out and support us as we have supported the city," GM of Van Wagner Sports and Entertainment John Cash said.

Last year, CIAA pumped more than $57 million into the local economy. Leaders say when it comes time to renegotiate contracts to stay in Charlotte, community participation will be looked at.

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