Concordia Invitational Tournament Cancellation Devastates Students, Alumni, and Fans


Lauren Saleh, Jaylene Wade, and Ali MacGregor, at the women’s basketball game versus Marian University on Jan. 15.

Sarah Ludwig

For the second year in a row, what would have been the 70th Concordia Invitational Tournament (CIT) was cancelled due to COVID-19.

Prior to 2021, the CIT tournament took place 44 years in a row to determine the champion among the men’s and women’s basketball teams from Concordia University Chicago, Concordia University Nebraska, Concordia University Wisconsin, and Concordia University Ann Arbor.

This year’s tournament was scheduled to be played at Concordia University Nebraska on Jan. 28 to 29, but on Jan. 7 tournament organizers cancelled the event due to the rising number of COVID-19 cases across the United States.

“CIT is part of the fabric of our campuses and contributes to our shared Concordian culture, so I was saddened by the decision,” said Rob Barnhill, director of athletics at Concordia University Wisconsin. 

Normally, the basketball teams compete over Friday and Saturday, with two men’s and two women’s games on each day. The losers of the Friday games play each other on Saturday for third place, followed by the winners of the Friday games competing for the championship.

The decision to cancel this year’s CIT was collectively made by the athletic directors of the four Concordia schools involved. “We started to have major concerns in December as the number of cases increased,” said CUC athletic director Pete Gnan.

Lonnie Pries, the director of athletics at Concordia University Ann Arbor, recalled her positive memories from playing in the tournament while she was an undergraduate student at CUC. “As a former basketball player at CUC, I know how special this tournament is to all who are involved, including the teams, fans from each campus, families of players, etc.,” Pries said in an email. “We know it is especially difficult for those student athletes who now may not get a chance to experience it on their home court.”

Students, athletes, fans, alumni, dance teams, and band members were not able to cheer on their school’s colors. For some students, this would have been their last chance to do so. “Since this is my last year here, I was devastated that I will never get to experience it again,” said senior women’s basketball player Marie Baumgartner.

When the event was last held at CUC in 2020, more than 500 spectators watched the teams compete. That year, the CUC men’s team lost to Concordia University Wisconsin 74-106 on Friday, then lost to Concordia University Ann Arbor 66-67 on Saturday. The CUC women’s team lost to Concordia University Wisconsin 46-48 on Friday, then lost to Concordia University Ann Arbor 63-76 on Friday.  

Both the men’s and women’s teams from Concordia University Nebraska won the 2020 tournament, which extended the Bulldogs women’s tournament championship streak to seven years running.

Not only did the cancellation change plans for this year, but it also shifted future plans. The 2023 tournament would have been held here at the Geiseman Gymnasium, but that home game will be pushed to 2025 as Concordia University Nebraska takes their turn to host, which was originally slated for January 2021. “That was unfortunate,” said CUC men’s basketball player William Bishop-Green. “It was going to be really fun for everyone. It was supposed to be here for my senior year.”

The next CIT will be held at Concordia University Nebraska in Seward, Neb., on Jan. 27-28, 2023.