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Over 1,000 to compete at DII festival in Birmingham

City will welcome student-athletes for 5 winter championships

More than 1,000 student-athletes will travel to Birmingham, Alabama, to compete in five NCAA winter championships March 7-11 when the city and the University of Alabama in Huntsville host the 2017 NCAA Division II National Championships Festival at the CrossPlex. Tickets are available for purchase at ncaa.com/tickets.

The 2017 winter festival features around 250 teams competing for NCAA titles in five sports: men’s and women’s swimming and diving, men’s and women’s indoor track and field, and wrestling. The festival also includes opening and closing ceremonies, a student-athlete social lounge where athletes can mingle, and community engagement activities throughout the week. The festival is unique in the NCAA championships mix as the event has an Olympic feel and was structured specifically to enhance the student-athlete experience for those who earned berths to the Division II championships. This is the third winter sports festival and the 10th festival overall.

“The NCAA Division II National Championships Festival is a unique, celebratory experience that brings more than 1,000 student-athletes together to be publicly recognized and have the opportunity to compete for multiple NCAA championships in one location,” said Terri Steeb Gronau, vice president of Division II. “We want this to be a positive and memorable festival for the student-athletes that also allows them opportunities to meet each other and give back to Birmingham through community engagement. We want to thank the city of Birmingham, the University of Alabama in Huntsville and everyone who is working to make this festival a success. We hope people will come out to support the student-athletes the week of the festival and enjoy the exciting championship competition.”

“Birmingham is a major sports city, and events like the NCAA Division II National Championships Festival not only shine a light on our community, but show our support for the NCAA and its athletes,” Birmingham Mayor William A. Bell said. “The CrossPlex is a premier facility, and we are always excited to give guests like the NCAA our Southern hospitality.”

Opening ceremonies will take place Tuesday, March 7, at the Alabama Theatre.

In addition to welcoming all of the student-athletes and their coaches, the NCAA will announce the festival’s five Elite 90 recipients. The award is given in each NCAA sport to the student-athlete who is competing at the championship finals site and has the highest grade-point average. The festival’s closing ceremonies will be March 11 at the Birmingham CrossPlex, with the championship teams being recognized and congratulatory remarks given to all of the athletes who competed during the week.

Competition will take place throughout the week at the CrossPlex. Men’s and women’s swimming and diving will be March 8-11; men’s and women’s indoor track and field will be March 9-11; and wrestling will be March 10-11.

In addition to the championship events, all student-athletes will have the opportunity to participate in community engagement activities in and around Birmingham during the week. Planned activities include interaction with local youth groups such as the local Boys and Girls Clubs; visits to a veterans hospital and elementary schools; and a visit to the Freedom Center, an after-school care facility. The NCAA also will donate computer equipment to various groups in the Birmingham community to further support educational efforts.

Birmingham is familiar with the Division II National Championships Festival, having hosted the winter event in 2013. The first NCAA festival was held in 2004 in Orlando, Florida. To date, almost 8,000 NCAA student-athletes have competed in the festival events, which are held every four years for fall, winter and spring championships.

A complete schedule of NCAA Division II National Championships Festival competition times and locations is available at ncaa.com/diifestival.