At Connect Sports, the NCAA will begin the steps toward awarding more than 500 sites championships in the next decade. Sports tourism veteran Russ Yurk will sort through the field for the NCAA, where he worked between 2004 and 2012. Yurk discusses what destinations need to know before bidding on an NCAA event and how the NCAA’s exclusive partnership with Connect Sports will benefit the RFP process.
What are some common misconceptions about bidding on NCAA events?
Many communities assume they lack the necessary venues or infrastructure to host an NCAA championship. The NCAA will select hosts for 85 of its 90 championship sports including regional and final sites. All told, it will award over 500 sites for the 2022-2023 through 2025-2026 academic years. With the diverse lineup, there is a championship for every community.
How does the NCAA see its partnership with Connect Sports benefitting the sports tourism industry?
Partnering with Connect allows the NCAA to connect in-person, in print and electronically, which will prove to be beneficial. The scope of the host site selection process is large and the various touch points with potential hosts will help with education and awareness.
How does the NCAA balance developing new host sites while maintaining relationships with existing partners?
First and foremost, the quality of the facilities is paramount for host selection. By placing championships in areas that understand the sport and its culture, they can better create a once in a lifetime experience for student-athletes. The committees are strategic when selecting locations and attempt to balance proven locations with newer hosts.
Everyone talks about Division 1 sports, but can you shed light on divisions well-suited for smaller communities?
The NCAA has partnered with many smaller communities with great success. Smaller communities can more easily create awareness and attention locally. The NCAA’s Divisions II and III have teamed up with charities like Make-A-Wish and Special Olympics with activations that have had tremendous impact and leave a lasting memory for participants.
Where does the NCAA see areas of growth?
There are two keys areas, first as sport sponsorships rises, the NCAA meets that growth with expanded brackets or new championships. Since 2012, the NCAA has added championships for Division III men’s volleyball and national collegiate women’s beach volleyball. Second, similar to the local facility boom, institutions continue to invest in new or updated facilities that allows them to host championships they may not have been able to previously.