NAIA Men's Basketball Championships

The National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics Men's Basketball National Championship has been held annually since 1937 (with the exception of 1944 and 2020). The tournament was established by James Naismith to crown a national champion for smaller colleges and universities. Through the 2019–20 season, the NAIA Tournament featured 32 teams, and the entire tournament was contested at one location in one week, rather than multiple locations over a series of weekends. Beginning with the 2021 edition, the tournament expanded to 64 teams, but would start with play at 16 regional sites, with only the winners at these sites playing at the final venue. From 1992 to 2020, the NAIA sponsored a Division II championship. The Division I tournament is played in Kansas City, Missouri, while in 2020, the Division II tournament was to be held for the last time at the Sanford Pentagon in Sioux Falls, South Dakota; however, the tournaments were called off due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

NAIA Men's Basketball Championships
Current season, competition or edition:
Current sports event 2021 NAIA Men's Basketball Tournament
NAIA basketball logo.png
FormerlyNational College Basketball Tournament (1937–1981)
FounderJames Naismith
MottoPassion. Tradition. History.
2 (1992–2020)
No. of teams64
32 (1992–2020)
Venue(s)Municipal Auditorium; Sanford Pentagon (D-II, 2017–2019)
Most recent
Shawnee State (OH)
Most titlesD-I: Oklahoma City (6)
D-II: Bethel (IN) and Indiana Wesleyan (3 each)
TV partner(s)CBS College Sports Network (national)
ESPN 3 (national)
TWC Sports Channel (Kansas City area)
Victory Sports Network (national)
NAIA Women's Basketball Championships
NAIA Men's Basketball

Division I then one divisionEdit

The Men's Basketball Championship is mostly played at the Municipal Auditorium in Kansas City, Missouri.[1] It has been held in Kansas City every year since the tournament began except from 1994 to 2001, when it was played in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Kansas City will continue to host until at least 2024. In 2018, the NAIA announced a new format for the 2021 tournament after the merger of D-I and D-II. Under the new format, the men's and women's tournaments each involve 64 teams. The first two rounds are played at 16 separate sites, with only the 16 winners at these sites advancing to Kansas City.[2]

The tournament MVP has been presented with the Chuck Taylor Most Valuable Player award since 1939. In 1948 the NAIA became the first national organization to open their intercollegiate postseason to black student-athletes due primarily to the media attention surrounding Manhattan College. Manhattan, who had an all-white team, learned of the NAIA rule that prohibited blacks from participating in the tournament, and after asking the NAIA to rescind the rule, the NAIA refused and Manhattan withdrew from the tournament. "The battle might have ended there but for a man named Harry Henshel, who was a member of the U.S. Olympic basketball committee. One of the reasons that the NAIA tournament was so prestigious was that the champion was invited to compete at the Olympic trials in New York City in late March. (The other teams invited were the two NCAA finalists, three teams from the Amateur Athletic Union, the winner of the National Invitation Tournament, and a YMCA team.)"[3] After reading in the New York papers that blacks could not participate in the tournament, Henshel suggested to the media that the NAIA national champion be eliminated from Olympic consideration. NAIA officials read Hershel’s statement in the papers and quickly took a telegraphic poll amongst its members the following day that rescinded the racial ban. In 1947, Coach John Wooden of Indiana State refused the invitation to the NAIA National Tournament primarily because Clarence J. Walker, the only black player on his team could not participate. Because of the stance taken by Manhattan College and Harry Hansel, in 1948, Coach Wooden was able to take Walker to the tournament who became the first African-American student-athlete to play in the NAIA tournament. Walker, a vital role player helped the Sycamores finish as the NAIA's national finalist. In 1957, Tennessee State would become the first historically black college to win a national championship, and the first team to win three consecutive tournaments. As of 2017, Kentucky State is the only other school to do so (1970, 1971, 1972). Oklahoma City University holds the record for the most tournament championships with 6. OCU also holds the record for most national championship titles in NAIA Women's Basketball.

Year Championship Team Score Runner-Up Team Arena Location
1937 Central Missouri State 35–24# Morningside Municipal Auditorium Kansas City, Missouri
1938 Central Missouri State 45–30 Roanoke
1939 Southwestern (KS) 32–31 San Diego State
1940 Tarkio 52–31 San Diego State
1941 San Diego State 36–32 Murray State
1942 Hamline 33–31 Southeastern Oklahoma State
1943 Southeast Missouri State 34–32 Northwest Missouri State
1944 No Tournament held
1945 Loyola (LA) 49–36 Pepperdine Municipal Auditorium Kansas City, Missouri
1946 Southern Illinois 49–40 Indiana State
1947 Marshall 73–59 Mankato State
1948 Louisville 82–70 Indiana State
1949 Hamline 57–46 Regis
1950 Indiana State 61–47 East Central
1951 Hamline 69–61 Millikin
1952 Southwest Missouri State 73–64 Murray State
1953 Southwest Missouri State 79–71 Hamline
1954 St. Benedict's (KS) 62–56 Western Illinois
1955 East Texas State 71–54 Southeastern Oklahoma State
1956 McNeese State 60–55 Texas Southern
1957 Tennessee State 92–73 Southeastern Oklahoma State
1958 Tennessee State 85–73 Western Illinois
1959 Tennessee State 97–87 Pacific Lutheran
1960 Southwest Texas State 66–44 Westminster (PA)
1961 Grambling 95–75 Georgetown (KY)
1962 Prairie View A&M 62–53 Westminster (PA)
1963 Pan American 73–62 Western Carolina
1964 Rockhurst 66–56 Pan American
1965 Central State (OH) 85–51 Oklahoma Baptist
1966 Oklahoma Baptist 88–59 Georgia Southern
1967 St. Benedict's (KS) 71–65 Oklahoma Baptist
1968 Central State (OH) 51–48 Fairmont State (WV)
1969 Eastern New Mexico 99–76 Maryland–Eastern Shore
1970 Kentucky State 79–71 Central Washington
1971 Kentucky State 102–82 Eastern Michigan
1972 Kentucky State 71–62 Wisconsin–Eau Claire
1973 Guilford 99–96 Maryland–Eastern Shore
1974 West Georgia 97–79 Alcorn State
1975 Grand Canyon 65–54 Midwestern State Kemper Arena
1976 Coppin State 96–91 Henderson State
1977 Texas Southern 71–44 Campbell
1978 Grand Canyon 79–75 Kearney State
1979 Drury 60–54 Henderson State
1980 Cameron 84–77 Alabama State
1981 Bethany Nazarene 86–85* Alabama-Huntsville
1982 South Carolina–Spartanburg 51–38 Biola
1983 College of Charleston 57–53 West Virginia Wesleyan
1984 Fort Hays State 48–46* Wisconsin–Stevens Point
1985 Fort Hays State 82–80* Wayland Baptist
1986 David Lipscomb 67–54 Arkansas-Monticello
1987 Washburn 79–77 West Virginia State
1988 Grand Canyon 88–86* Auburn Montgomery
1989 St. Mary's (TX) 61–58 East Central
1990 Birmingham–Southern 88–80 Wisconsin–Eau Claire
1991 Oklahoma City 77–74 Central Arkansas
1992 Oklahoma City 82–73* Central Arkansas
1993 Hawaii Pacific 88–83 Oklahoma Baptist
1994 Oklahoma City 99–81 Life Mabee Center Tulsa, Oklahoma
1995 Birmingham–Southern 92–76 Pfeiffer
1996 Oklahoma City 86–80 Georgetown (KY)
1997 Life 73–64 Oklahoma Baptist
1998 Georgetown (KY) 83–69 Southern Nazarene
1999 Life 63–60 Mobile Donald W. Reynolds Center
2000 Life 61–59 Georgetown (KY) Tulsa Convention Center
2001 Faulkner 63–59 USAO
2002 USAO 96–79 Oklahoma Baptist Municipal Auditorium Kansas City, Missouri
2003 Concordia–Irvine 88–84* Mountain State
2004 Mountain State 74–70 Concordia–Irvine
2005 John Brown 65–55 Azusa Pacific
2006 Texas Wesleyan 67–65 Oklahoma City
2007 Oklahoma City 79–71 Concordia–Irvine
2008 Oklahoma City 75–72 Mountain State
2009 Rocky Mountain 77–61 Columbia (MO)
2010 Oklahoma Baptist 84–83 Azusa Pacific
2011 Pikeville 83–76* Mountain State
2012 Concordia–Irvine 72–69 Oklahoma Baptist
2013 Georgetown (KY) 88–62 Southwestern Assemblies of God
2014[4] Vanguard 70–65 Emmanuel (GA)
2015[5] Dalton State 71–53 Westmont
2016 Mid-America Christian 100–99*† Georgetown (KY)
2017 Texas Wesleyan 86–76 Life
2018 Graceland 83–80* LSU–Alexandria
2019 Georgetown (KY) 68–48 Carroll (MT)
2020 No tournament due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
2021** Shawnee State 74-68 Lewis–Clark State
2024[6] TBD TBD TBD

# – Lowest scoring game. † – Highest scoring game. * – Denotes each overtime. ** – Denotes new tournament format.

Division IIEdit

NAIA Division II Men's Basketball National Championship was held until 2017 at Keeter Gymnasium on the campus of College of the Ozarks in Point Lookout, Missouri near Branson,[7] but moved in 2018 response to the College of the Ozarks's stance on the 2016 national anthem protests at athletic events.[8] In 2018 and 2019, the championship was held at the Sanford Pentagon in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.[9]

The NAIA announced in April 2018 that it would discontinue its Division II basketball championships for both men and women after the 2019–20 season.[10] The D-II men's basketball schools were merged into the D-I under a new basketball championship tournament format in 2021.

Bethel (Ind.) and Indiana Wesleyan each had 3 Division II national championships.

Year Championship Team Score Runner-Up Team Arena Location
1992 Grace (Ind.) 85–79* Northwestern (Iowa) Wisdom Gym Stephenville, Texas
1993 Willamette (Ore.) 63–56 Northern State (S.D.) Montgomery Fieldhouse Nampa, Idaho
1994 Eureka (Ill.) 98–95* Northern State (S.D.)
1995 Bethel (Ind.) 103–95* Northwest Nazarene (Idaho)
1996 Albertson College of Idaho 81–72* Whitworth (Wash.)
1997 Bethel (Ind.) 95–94 Siena Heights (Mich.)
1998 Bethel (Ind.) 89–87 Oregon Tech Idaho Center
1999 Cornerstone (Mich.) 113–109*† Bethel (Ind.)
2000 Embry-Riddle (Fla.) 75–63 College of the Ozarks (Mo.) Keeter Gymnasium Point Lookout, Missouri
2001 Northwestern (Iowa) 82–78 MidAmerica Nazarene (Kan.)
2002 Evangel (Mo.) 84–61 Robert Morris (Ill.)
2003 Northwestern (Iowa) 77–57 Bethany (Kan.)
2004 Oregon Tech 81–72 Bellevue (Neb.)
2005 Walsh (Ohio) 81–70 Concordia (Neb.)
2006 College of the Ozarks (Mo.) 74–56 Huntington (Ind.)
2007 MidAmerica Nazarene (Kan.) 78–60 Mayville State (N.D.)
2008 Oregon Tech 63–56 Bellevue (Neb.)
2009 Oklahoma Wesleyan 60–53 College of the Ozarks (Mo.)
2010 Saint Francis (Ind.) 67–66 Walsh (Ohio)
2011 Cornerstone (Mich.) 80–71 Saint Francis (Ind.)
2012 Oregon Tech 63–46 Northwood (Fla.)
2013 Cardinal Stritch (Wis.) 73–59 William Penn (Iowa)
2014 Indiana Wesleyan 78–68 Midland University (Neb.)
2015 Cornerstone (Mich.) 66–45# Dakota Wesleyan (S.D.)
2016 Indiana Wesleyan 69–66 Saint Francis (Ind.)
2017 Union (Ky.) 72–69 Cornerstone (Mich.)
2018 Indiana Wesleyan 84–71 Saint Francis (Ind.) Sanford Pentagon Sioux Falls, South Dakota
2019 Spring Arbor (Mich.) 82–76 Oregon Tech
2020 No tournament due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

# – Lowest scoring game. † – Highest scoring game. * – Denotes each overtime.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ NAIA Men's Division I Championship History
  2. ^ "New Basketball Postseason Format Approved" (Press release). NAIA. July 2, 2018. Retrieved January 16, 2020.
  3. ^ Davis, Seth (2014). Wooden, A Coach's Life (First ed.). St. Martin's Griffin. p. 93. ISBN 978-1-25006085-3.
  4. ^ "Vanguard Wins First National Championship, 70–65". NAIA. March 26, 2014. Retrieved March 26, 2014.
  5. ^ "Dalton State Wins First-Ever National Championship". NAIA. March 24, 2015. Retrieved March 24, 2015.
  6. ^ "NAIA Men's Basketball National Championship to Remain in Kansas City". NAIA. March 22, 2019. Retrieved March 22, 2019.
  7. ^ NAIA Men's Division II Championship History
  8. ^ "Anthem protest policy moves NAIA basketball tournament away from College of the Ozarks". Springfield News-Leader. October 27, 2017. Retrieved January 19, 2018.
  9. ^ "NAIA Division II Men's Basketball National Championship Awarded to Sioux Falls, S.D." NAIA. November 17, 2017. Retrieved January 19, 2018.
  10. ^ "NAIA to Combine Basketball Divisions" (Press release). NAIA. April 16, 2018. Retrieved April 20, 2018.