KANSAS CITY, Mo. — On Thursday, the NAIA selected Carroll College and Rocky Mountain College to host the opening round of the upcoming NAIA national basketball tournaments.
“It's nice that you can bring something on a national stage to your campus. It tells you that the profile of that particular program has elevated itself to be recognized as one of the best in the country,” said Carroll College Athletics Director Charlie Gross.
While the announcement the Frontier Conference would get the opportunity to host two opening site rounds came as a surprise to some, it wasn't exactly a shock to others.
“I had this conversation with Kent Paulson. Our commissioner does a tremendous job of advocating for our conference at the national level and Kent called me [Thursday] to congratulate us on getting the bid and he said, 'Not bad for a conference with only six schools in it' and I think that it speaks to — it speaks to our conference and the level of competition. It speaks to the experience that we give our student-athletes," said Rocky Mountain College Athletic director Jim Klemann. "It's not a surprise to us, we get to see it every single day, we get to see the caliber of student-athlete that that plays both on the men's side and the women's side and throughout our other sports in the conference. And, you know, for our conference to be identified in that way is pretty special."
Assuming both the Carroll College men and Rocky Mountain women (who each earned the No. 1 seeds in the Frontier Conference at the end of the regular season) earn berths into the tournament, they would each play at their home site alongside three other teams. Those teams have not been announced at this time.
While the opportunity to host one of the opening site rounds is certainly an honor, it's not just handed out to teams.
“Number one, you've got to be successful. You've got to be, you know, one of the best teams in the country. And that was kind of the biggest catalyst," said Klemann.
"It's called a bid for a reason. You have to, you have to put up some money. And so you have to look at do you have that financial backing? Is it worthwhile? Compare that to what could be the expenses to travel somewhere? How far could you travel? So you make a financial decision. Thirdly, is your facility going to be available at that particular time?" said Gross.
The tournament is a single-elimination style tournament and will begin with two games on March 11 and a final game to determine who heads to the main site of the tournament on March 12.
Times for these games have not been announced at this time.
Following the opening round, the NAIA men's national tournament will be held in Kansas City, while the women's tournament will be held in Sioux City, Iowa.