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CIAA Commissioner Jacqie McWilliams-Parker's Team And Strategic Partnerships Produce An 'Electric' Atmosphere At The 'Fans' Favorite' HBCU Basketball Tournament

CIAA Commissioner, her team, member institutions, and strategic partners deliver one of the nation's best basketball tournaments for fans to enjoy.

If you are searching for a sports conference that regularly delivers intense drama, electrifying basketball tournaments, and exceptional fan experiences, you must look no further than the CIAA.  Under the leadership of Commissioner Jacqie McWilliams-Parker, the CIAA is an HBCU sports conference that stands firmly at the pinnacle of athletic excellence, towering over the competition with a well-orchestrated basketball tournament.

She's been called the "Godmother" of HBCU sports leagues because of how well the CIAA develops partnerships that make all of their tournaments — especially basketball — a unique and community-driven experience.   The CIAA make you an offer at the tourney that you "cannot refuse" — excitement and a great time.

Commissioner McWilliams-Parker discussed the exciting events of the CIAA Men's and Women's Basketball Championship Tournament in Baltimore. "We've been able to do that with our sports," Commissioner McWilliams Parker told HBCU Legends. "I mean, with our sponsorships and partnerships."

Commissioner McWilliams-Parker


As the oldest HBCU sports conference in the nation, the CIAA will continue to celebrate its past and future legends at the 2024 Hall of Fame inductions. During the weeklong festivities, the league will hold health and wellness forums, the John B. McClendon Jr. CIAA Hall of Fame Breakfast, a career fair, meetings, women's empowerment seminars, fan fests, and alumni parties while hosting the Food Lion CIAA Men's and Women's Basketball Tournament at CFG Bank Arena.

"This morning, we had our women's empowerment brunch, and Latoya Luckett was there," McWilliams-Parker mentioned.  "She talked about the mental health aspect of being in the position that she has and the things that she has done...managing expectations for herself."

Although, it wasn't always glam and glitter for the CIAA.  During the pandemic, "We didn't have a championship.  We did have a virtual tournament with everybody, which I thought was the most fabulous thing ever, and ideas and opportunities that we created to be relevant during that was an incredible experience, but we still had a tournament here in Baltimore."



It's the fourth year in Baltimore after transferring the event from Charlotte, North Carolina. According to the CIAA, "the Basketball Championship Tournament has generated a total economic impact of $29.6 million for Charm City, supporting 1,504 part-time and full-time jobs and generating $2.5 million in state and local taxes."

Also, we must recognize the legendary notables and entertainers like Doug E. Fresh, Chubb Rock, DJ Kool, DJ Kid Capri, LeVelle, Gabby Simone, and Sugar Bear, who will attend in 2024.



The recent Dartmouth legal rulings allowing the basketball team to join a union could create a destructive ripple effect on HBCU sports programs.  "You know, all this stuff has an immediate impact on all of us," she noted. "I think we're all thinking about whatever decisions are made, what does that look like for Division I, II, III HBCU schools.  I mean, I think we're going to continue to advocate the way that we do, the impact that it has on our HBCUs.  Ultimately, we want to make sure that we can give these students the best experiences.   So when you put laws or things in place that put a strain on our HBCUs, we have to continue to talk about it."



Carving a niche in sports is a challenge.  Nevertheless, lending a helping hand to the CIAA are the partnerships of minority- and women-owned businesses.  "We've been intentional about hiring minority women-owned businesses to be a part of the CIAA.  And so I mean, which is majority of our partners that partner with us to help deliver and execute throughout the entire year."

McWilliams-Parker acknowledges the conference and that all HBCU sports have no value without their student-athletes and the educational resources they require.  She has artfully leveraged the power of sports to foster relationships to provide the spotlight and resources necessary for the CIAA's 13 members and their student-athletes.  "But I think HBCUs will never lose the focus of why we exist, and that's higher education, the opportunity to give these students what we're doing."

Commissioner McWilliams-Parker's dedication to student enrichment is evident, but her advocacy for sports to shape futures and unite different sectors sets her apart.