by: Scott McCaulley
The College of the Ozarks Women’s Basketball Team made their 27th appearance in the NAIA Women’s Basketball Tournament, losing in the opening round to Northwestern of Iowa. It also appears to be the Lady Bobcats last NAIA Tournament appearance as on Friday, the school announced the decision to end its relationship with the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics at the end of the current school year.
“We are grateful for the many years of athletic play we have enjoyed with the NAIA, particularly the 20 or so years we were able to host the Men’s Division II Basketball National Championship,” said Dr. Eric Bolger, vice president for academic affairs and dean of the College in a press release.
“The College is proud of our athletes and coaches, and grateful to all those who contribute to the success of our athletic program,” Bolger continues. “We look forward to this program continuing to develop students of Christ-like character at the College.”
The release goes on to state that the school will continue its athletic relationship with the National Christian College Athletic Association (NCCAA). The NCCAA is made up of primarily faith based colleges and holds National Championship Events in several sports. Several teams have already competed in NCCAA Championship Events including a National Title for the C of O Volleyball Team in 2019.
The school’s history in the NAIA includes hosting the Division Two Men’s National Basketball Tournament between 2000-2017 with the Bobcats winning one title and finishing second twice. The school was scheduled to host the tournament through 2019, but both the NAIA and C of O agreed to move the event due in part to the stance of the school and President Dr. Jerry Davis on guaranteeing that participants would stand for the playing of the National Anthem.
The C of O Men’s Basketball Team had also qualified for the Men’s Tournament this year but the school decided not to accept the bid for unspecified reasons.
The Lady Bobcats run in the Women’s National Tournament included five runner-up finishes.