HOLLAND -- Hope College will celebrate half-a-century of membership in the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) on Wednesday, Feb. 7.

The college will host NCAA President Myles Brand and other NCAA officials for a series of events culminating with a home basketball doubleheader that includes the Hope versus Calvin men's game which has been described as America's biggest small college rivalry.

Dr. Brand will be the keynote speaker at a luncheon for invited guests.  He will speak on the topic, "Academics and Athletics: A Vision for Intercollegiate Sport."

Accompanying Dr. Brand will be Dr. Daniel Dutcher, vice president for the NCAA's Division III; Wallace Renfro, senior advisor to President Brand; and Josh Centor, coordinator of new media communications for the NCAA.  The NCAA weblog, "Double-A Zone" will originate from the Hope campus on Feb. 7.

The NCAA officials will meet with Hope student-athletes and staff during the afternoon.  That evening they will be guests at a sold out DeVos Fieldhouse featuring Hope against Olivet in an MIAA women's basketball game (5:30 p.m.), followed by the 164th renewal of the Hope-Calvin rivalry (8 p.m.).

Hope College has been an NCAA member since 1957, first in the former College Division and since 1973 in Division III. Just a year after joining the NCAA, the Flying Dutchmen were competing in the College Division basketball championships. Over the past half century Hope men's basketball has been among the DIII tournament leaders with 18 championship appearances.  The women's basketball program has won two national championships, most recently in 2006.

Hope athletes in all sports have accomplished on the regional and national field of play while coaches, faculty and administrators have served the association on committees and boards with distinction.  Hope teams and athletes have competed in NCAA championships in every college-sponsored sport, crowning 29 team and individual national champions.

Hope has also been host to many NCAA championships, including the national finals in men's and women's cross country (1987), women's basketball (1990) and women's and men's swimming & diving (2005). Hope has been selected to host the Division III women's basketball "Final Four" in 2008 and 2009.

Myles Brand has served as president of the NCAA since January, 2003. During his tenure, he has presided over the passage of the most comprehensive academic reform package for intercollegiate athletics in recent history. He has worked to change the national dialog on college sports to emphasize the educational value of athletics participation and the integration of intercollegiate athletics with the academic mission of higher education. His tenure has also helped reestablish the role of university presidents in the governance of college sports.

Dr. Brand was himself president of two major universities, the University of Oregon (1989-94) and IndianaUniversity (1994-2002). His professional career has included positions on both NCAA Division I and Division III campuses.

He earned his B.S. in philosophy from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and the Ph.D. in philosophy from the University of Rochester. His academic research investigated the nature of human action.

He has served on the Board of Directors of the Association of American Universities, the American Council on Education, the National Association of State Universities and Land Grant Colleges, the American Philosophical Association and the University Corporation for Advanced Internet Development.

The NCAA is a voluntary association of 1,200 institutions and collegiate conferences. It is the largest collegiate athletic organization in the world. The NCAA headquarters are located in Indianapolis.

Its predecessor, the Intercollegiate Athletic Association of the United States (IAAUS), was established in 1906 to set rules for amateur sports in the United States. Its creation was urged by then-president Theodore Roosevelt in reaction to concern over the growing amount of serious injuries and deaths occurring in collegiate football. The IAAUS became the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) in 1910. The association membership initially consisted of a University Division and a College Division.

In 1973, the NCAA split its membership into three divisions: Division I, Division II and Division III. Under NCAA rules, Division I and Division II schools can offer scholarships to athletes for playing a sport. Division III consists of colleges and universities that choose not to offer athletically related financial aid (athletic scholarships) to their student-athletes. With over 420 member institutions, DIII is the largest of the three divisions. Division III schools range in size from less than 500 to over 10,000 students. (HopeCollege has an enrollment of 3,203.)

From 1960 to 1976, the member colleges of the Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association (MIAA) did not compete in NCAA-sponsored post-season team championships. Since that self-imposed ban was lifted, the MIAA has crowned 17 national team champions and won 82 Division III individual/relay titles.

Up until the 1980s, the NCAA did not sponsor women's athletics. Instead, the Association for Intercollegiate Athletics for Women (AIAW) governed women's collegiate sports. By 1982, all divisions of the NCAA offered national championship events for women's athletics and most members of the AIAW including Hope joined the NCAA. The MIAA was the first collegiate conference in the nation to form a unified men's and women's governance structure. (1978-79).

Sports sanctioned by the NCAA include basketball, baseball (men), softball (women), football (men), cross country, field hockey (women), bowling (women), golf, fencing (coeducational), lacrosse, soccer, gymnastics, rowing, volleyball, ice hockey, water polo, rifle (coeducational), tennis, skiing (coeducational), track & field, swimming & diving, and wrestling (men's). HopeCollege sponsors 18 intercollegiate sports, nine for women and nine for men.