Metropolitan State University of Denver and the Denver Sports Commission will welcome more than 750 student-athletes to the city next week for the NCAA Division II National Championships Festival. Tickets to all festival competitions on the MSU Denver campus and at other venues throughout the area are available for purchase at www.ncaa.com/tickets.

The festival features 76 teams and 20 other qualifying individuals competing for NCAA titles in six sports: men’s and women’s golf, women’s lacrosse, softball and men’s and women’s tennis. 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 ninth NCAA Division II sports festival and the first one to be held in the Western region of the country. 

“Our student-athletes will be in Denver soon for the NCAA Division II National Championships Festival, which will be one of the most unique and memorable experiences they’ll have as they compete for a national title,” said Terri Steeb Gronau, vice president of Division II.  “I want to thank MSU Denver and the Denver Sports Commission for their work in making this a terrific experience for our student-athletes. We hope people come out to support our student-athletes and the championships, and that everyone has a wonderful experience.”

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“Being the host of the 2016 NCAA Division II National Championships Festival with Denver Sports has been great for our university and the city of Denver,” MSU Denver President Stephen M. Jordan said.  “We are able to expose student-athletes, parents and fans from around the country to all that Denver has to offer. This is a tremendous opportunity to show off our campus and top-notch facilities such as The Regency Athletic Complex at MSU Denver. We are excited to showcase the city of Denver and the MSU Denver campus to hundreds of student-athletes, their families and friends.”

Opening ceremonies will take place Monday at Mile High Stadium. The student-athletes will be honored at the event and also will enjoy dinner and entertainment. The Elite 90, an award for the student-athlete who has the highest grade-point average in each of the six sports at the festival, also will be announced. Additionally, NCAA President Mark Emmert will address the student-athletes and their coaches at the opening event.

Men’s golf and softball kick off competition Tuesday. The first round of men’s golf begins at 7:30 a.m. at Green Valley Ranch Golf Club, while softball opens with four games, starting at noon at The Regency Athletic Complex at MSU Denver. 

Women’s tennis, women’s golf and men’s tennis open play Wednesday, May 18. The first round of women’s tennis begins at 8 a.m. at The Regency Athletic Complex and Gates Tennis Center. The first round of women’s golf begins at 8 a.m. at CommonGround Golf Course, while the first round of men’s tennis begins at 2 p.m. at The Regency Athletic Complex and Gates Tennis Center.

Women’s lacrosse begins with its first semifinal at 11 a.m. Thursday, May 19, at The Regency Athletic Complex. All six NCAA titles will be decided Saturday, May 21. The closing ceremonies will take place Saturday evening in downtown Denver. 

In addition to the week’s competitions, all of the student-athletes will have the opportunity to participate in community engagement activities in and around Denver. There will be specific team engagement activities each day and a backpack initiative at the headquarters hotel. Men’s golf will visit the local veterans hospital and participate in a Folds of Honor program, which provides scholarship assistance to the spouses and children of individuals in the military who have died or have been disabled during their service to America. Women’s golf will visit a children’s hospital and also will participate in the Folds of Honor program. Men’s and women’s tennis will interact with youth at a clinic at a YMCA. Women’s lacrosse will speak with students at two elementary schools and two Boys and Girls Clubs, and softball will visit eight local elementary schools to motivate students. 

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