For prospective student-athletes in basketball looking for more options to pursue their dream of playing collegiate basketball the United States Collegiate Athletic Association (USCAA) offers another option to the NCAA and NAIA.
USCAA College Basketball History
Athletic directors from the Lake Erie (Ohio) Conference and the Eastern Shore Basketball League established the National Little College Athletic Association (NLCAA) on July 29th, 1966 in Charleston, West Virginia. The organization began with men’s basketball and featured an eight team national tournament to give NLCAA members the opportunity to compete athletically on a national level. In the mid-70s the NLCAA added three sports: Baseball 1975, Wrestling in 1976 and Soccer in 1977. In 1989 the association changed its name to the National Small College Athletic Association (NSCAA) and then again changed to the now present day organization, the United State Collegiate Athletic Association (USCAA) in 2001. As of the 2013-2014 athletic seasons, the organization includes 84 members nationwide from Maine to Washington State. The USCAA awards All-Americans, names scholar-athletes and hosts national championships in baseball, basketball, cross country, golf, soccer, softball, volleyball and has a wrestling invitational. In 2013 the USCAA sponsored their first year of football with 11 participants.
Small College Basketball Scholarships & The USCAA
Basketball continues to be a driving force for the growth of the USCAA. Many current member schools have joined and have flourished by attracting top notch players with academic and athletic scholarships. The athletic scholarship piece is something which gives USCAA schools an edge over NCAA division three schools who are not able to offer athletic money. In addition, many USCAA member institutions are able to compete as duel members affording the opportunity for their teams to compete in more than one national championship. The 2013 USCAA Division 1 Men’s Basketball Champion Rochester College (MI) traveled and competed in the NAIA Division II National Championships as an NAIA Independent, a week after taking home the USCAA title. The USCAA allows schools this luxury that NCAA and NAIA full conference members prohibit, making the USCAA even more appealing to schools and student-athletes.
USCAA Small College Basketball National Championship
Perhaps the USCAA’s most valuable asset is the annual Basketball National Championships which gives participating members each year a very special, memorable experience. Penn State Fayette, the Eberly Campus in Uniontown, Pa. has hosted the men’s and women’s championships since 2009 and in late September of 2013 agreed to host the basketball championships through 2018. The USCAA and Penn State-Fayette team up to host 34 teams in two divisions of men’s and women’s basketball during four days of competition. The tournament kicks off with a banquet at the incredible host hotel, Nemacolin Woodland Resort. Nemacolin, situated on 2,000 acres of land in the Laurel Highlands of southwestern Pennsylvania, provides participating teams a unique experience during their stay. The resort features items like live safari animals on site, a spa, 36 holes and fly fishing just to name a few of their on-site attractions. The National Championships provides two games guaranteed, as teams that are knocked out in first round play, have the chance to play in a consolation game and end their seasons on a high note. The tournament also holds a skills competition at Penn State-Fayette the night before the first day of competition. Players have the opportunity to compete in a two person shooting challenge as well as a three point and dunk competition in front of all teams in the tournament inside the spacious 1,500 seat main arena.
Is USCAA Small College Basketball For You?
In summary, USCAA basketball provides a great alternative to the NCAA and NAIA for prospective student-athletes. Member schools have the option to offer athletic scholarships and to compete as duel members in more than one organization. The annual national championships gives teams a great avenue to compete at a very high level of play and earn national recognition playing the sport that they love. Check out the USCAA Basketball today. As their motto states, they truly are “Leveling the Playing Field for America’s Small Colleges.” Click Here For More Info About Your Future and Small College Basketball in the USCAA.
Eric Werntgen is the Head Basketball Coach and Assistant Athletic Director at the University of the Maine at Fort Kent. He is also a former small college basketball player himself at the University of New England / Westbrook College. Eric is a contributing writer for www.BasketballTrainer.com.