EVANSVILLE, Ind. (WFIE) - The NCAA announced today that the University of Southern Indiana and the Evansville Sports Corporation have been chosen to co-host the 2024, 2025 NCAA Division II Men’s Basketball Elite Eight at the Ford Center, as well as the 2026 NCAA II Swimming and Diving National Championships at the Deaconess Aquatic Center. The NCAA also awarded the 2023 NCAA II Cross Country Midwest Regional to USI and the Evansville Sports Corporation.
The official news release is available on the NCAA’s website.
“Evansville Sports Corp and USI are excited to work together once again to bring high-level NCAA championship competition to the area,” said Eric Marvin, President, Evansville Sports Corp. "We couldn’t be more thrilled to bring the Division II Men’s Elite Eight back to the Ford Center in 2024 and 2025.
“Angel Mounds is another outstanding venue that will allow us to showcase our region for the 2023 DII Men’s and Women’s Cross Country Regionals,” continued Marvin. “The Deaconess Aquatic Center is under construction and will be a world-class venue for the DII Men’s and Women’s Swimming and Diving Championships in 2026.”
Evansville has a rich history of hosting NCAA national championship events for men’s basketball. The city hosted the NCAA Division II men’s basketball championship from 1957-75, 2002, 2014, 2015, and 2019 and is scheduled to host in 2021 and 2022. The semifinals and quarterfinals of the 2020 NCAA II Tournament were scheduled to be played at the Ford Center last year, but were canceled due to COVID-19.
The 2026 NCAA II Swimming and Diving National Championships will showcase the new Deaconess Aquatics Center that is slated to open in the spring of 2021. This will the first national championship hosted by Evansville for the sports of swimming and diving.
In addition to the national championship events, USI and Evansville will host the 2023 NCAA II Cross Country Midwest Regional at Angel Mounds. Evansville hosted the 2019 NCAA II Midwest Regionals at Angel Mounds and was scheduled to host the regional and the national championships this fall (2020) until they were canceled due to the pandemic.
“Bringing the Division II championships to Evansville is a big win for us,” said Jon Mark Hall, USI Director of Athletics. “It is nice to have a partner organization like the Evansville Sports Corporation to help attract major events like this to our region. An added plus are great facilities like the Ford Center and the yet-to-open Deaconess Aquatic Center, in addition to a cross country course like Angel Mounds, to host these outstanding championships.”
Officially formed in 2010, the Evansville Sports Corporation has been instrumental in bringing major sporting events to the region, which creates an economic impact to the region. Other national and regional events include the 2012-2016 PGA Tour’s Web.com Tour; 2017 U.S. Figure Skating National Theatre on Ice Competition; the 2018-23 Ohio Valley Conference Basketball Championships; 2015 and 2016 Big Ten Golf Championships; the 2012 and 2013 Great Lakes Valley Conference Baseball Tournament; and the 2013, 2014, 2016 GLVC Basketball Tournaments.
USI Men’s Basketball has advanced to the Elite Eight four times in the history of the program (1994 Springfield, Massachusetts; 1995 Louisville, Kentucky; 2004 Bakersfield, California; and Evansville in 2019) and won the Division II national title in 1995. The Screaming Eagles advanced to the semifinals of the 2019 Elite Eight in Evansville.
USI Men’s and Women’s Cross Country, which has dominated the Great Lakes Valley Conference over the last decade, has hosted the NCAA II Midwest Regional four times (2014, 2015, 2016, 2019) and the NCAA II National Championships four times (1987, 2004, 2009, 2017).
Courtesy: USI Athletics