(July 1, 2012) The Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association, the oldest Historically Black College/University conference in the NCAA, recently celebrated its 100th year of existence.

Interim CIAA Commissioner Peggy Davis spoke on the significance of reaching the centennial milestone in a statement released by the NCAA.

“The CIAA has such a rich history, and to be able to celebrate the 100th anniversary of its existence means a great deal to our member institutions, alumni and current students,” Davis said. “There are a select few conferences in Division I, II, or III that can say they have been around for 100 years. This country has seen and experienced many economic challenges over the years; however the CIAA continues to stand strong and provide academic and athletic support to students of all generations.”

Founded in 1912 as the Colored Intercollegiate Athletic Association, the CIAA renamed its conference the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association in 1950. Some of its oldest members share profound history that even predates the founding of the CIAA. Livingstone College and Johnson C. Smith University, originally named Biddle College, played each other in the first intercollegiate football game between two Black colleges in 1892.

Since 1912, the CIAA has expanded its membership to HBCUs all over the U.S., including Bowie State University of Bowie, Md.; Lincoln University of Pennsylvania; Elizabeth City State University in Elizabeth City, N.C.; Saint Augustine’s College and Shaw University of Raleigh, N.C.; Fayetteville State University of Fayetteville, N.C.; Winston-Salem State of Winston-Salem, N.C.; Virginia Union University of Richmond, Va.; and Virginia State University of Petersburg, Va.

In 2008, the CIAA diversified by adding Chowan University, the first non-predominantly Black college in the history of the conference.

Bowie State Athletic Director Anton Goff told the AFRO that being a part of conference with such a long and rich history is “special.”

“It’s a special feeling you have to know you’re a member of an organization that has been around so long,” Goff said. “The CIAA has a very special brand. So many people from all over have been associated with our schools, so our history and legacy extends through them.”

Goff said the CIAA is also one of the only athletic conferences to host its men’s and women’s basketball championship tournament together, known as the CIAAs. Held every February in Charlotte, N.C., several thousand people head to the CIAAs to watch the games and participate in the many festivals and social activities organized by the conference, such as music concerts and alumni parties.

“The people love the CIAAs because it’s a great way for so many folks, whether alum, students or fans, to link up and have a great time together,” Goff said. First Lady Michelle Obama paid a special visit to this year’s CIAA tournament in February to join the centennial celebration.

Legendary singing group The O’ Jays, also performed at this year’s sold-out CIAAs. Winston-Salem State won the men’s basketball tournament, while Shaw won the women’s tournament; Shaw then went on to capture the NCAA Division II women’s championship less than a month later.