Pember: Native basketball tourney certified by NCAA
"If all goes according to plan, the term “Rez Ball” may soon become part of the mainstream lexicon. The Native American Basketball Invitational, founded in 2003, is helping to bring Indian Country’s unique variation of basketball to the outside world. NABI recently convinced the NCAA to waive its same state requirement for extending certification. Late last month, the NCAA officially notified NABI that the tournament was certified as an official event, making it the first Native American basketball competition to receive such status.

According to NABI co-founder GinaMarie Mabry, previous NCAA rules that required athletes within a team to reside in the same state as a given tournament effectively excluded American Indian high school athletes from NCAA consideration.

“It was a matter of education for the NCAA,” she says.

The NCAA issues certification for some high school tournaments to ensure that players who may be considered for NCAA play meet the organization’s requirements, which includes the condition that they are amateurs. Typically, Native American students may attend out-of-state boarding schools or schools run by the Bureau of Indian Affairs. Earlier this year, NABI received notice that the NCAA would make an exception for tribal citizens in their rules for the same-state issue. By withholding the certification, the NCAA was effectively in violation of federal tribal sovereignty that views tribes as having separate nation status, according to Mabry."

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Mary Annette Pember: "Rez Ball" Gains NCAA Certification (Diverse Issues in Higher Education 4/10)

Relevant Links:
Native American Basketball Invitational -

Related Stories:
USA Today: Few Natives in college, pro sports (02/22)
Native American Basketball Invitational kicks off (7/5)
All-Native basketball tournament kicks off (06/23)
Registration opens for Native basketball tourney (1/12)
Basketball a sense of pride, honor on reservations (07/26)
Phoenix Suns to host Native basketball tourney (02/04)

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