The National Championship Tournament (NCT) was held annually by the College Bowl Company, Inc., to determine its format's national title during the company's affiliation with ACUI from 1977-1978 to 2007-2008. Occasional matches appeared on radio or TV during that time.
The College Bowl-ACUI program was discontinued after 2008. College Bowl continued to offer products to limited markets such as the HCASC and the 2021 College Bowl TV Show, but has not staged a competition for the general college level since the end of the ACUI partnership.
For a full discussion of the mainstream quizbowl community's issues with the College Bowl program and the reasons for teams choosing not to participate, see the main page for College Bowl as a whole. This page is focused on the National Championship Tournament specifically.
By 1990, several major contenders in ACF and, ultimately, NAQT tournaments such as Maryland, Tennessee, and Georgia Tech no longer participated in College Bowl. By 2000 the only regular participants in College Bowl among the top tier of quizbowl teams were Chicago and Michigan, who themselves did not compete after the 2003-2004 season, and who never sent their best possible lineups to the tournament after 1998, due to a combination of the grad student restriction and individual players not wishing to play College Bowl. In the last eleven instances of the NCT, the only serious ICT or ACF title contenders who sent their best player lineups to College Bowl NCT were 2006 UCLA and Chicago's 1998 team, though other Chicago and Michigan lineups often won the NCT even without the top players from those clubs. The field quality below the top 4 was also very weak compared to other nationals due to the qualification system.
ACUI Regional System
During the time of the ACUI/College Bowl affiliation, ACUI was divided into 16 geographical regions. Regions 1-15 covered all areas of the United States and Canada. Region 16, for Australia, New Zealand, and "the Far East," never participated in College Bowl.
Generally, each region held a tournament and the champion qualified for NCT. Except in 2003 (when only the 15 regional champions were invited), 1986 (when an intermediate "sectional" stage was used), and 1980 and 1981 (when 9 wild cards were invited to create a 24-team, multi-stage national tournament) the NCT field selected a 16th team by picking one regional runner-up as a wild card. The process for choosing the wild card was purported to be a random draw, though some questioned whether teams were actually chosen for other reasons. Though almost all NCTs had a 16-team field, the specific tournament format varied often, as noted below.
From 2005 to 2007, the region 3 and 4 tournaments were combined in one, single-site event, with the highest-finishing teams from each region in the overall field each receiving NCT bids.
ACUI's region system continued to influence tournament placement and nationals qualification during ACUI's affiliation with NAQT from 2010-2013, though with significantly less rigidity than during the College Bowl era. Since the end of ACUI involvement in quizbowl in 2013, they have reorganized into an 8-region system.
College Bowl NCT top finishers/locations
- Formats used for old NCTs: https://web.archive.org/web/19970506201422/http://www.collegebowl.com/archives/archnct.html
- This team is denoted "Harvard-Radcliffe" in some sources. Harvard and Radcliffe began a formal affiliation in 1977 and merged into one university in 1999. Most likely, some students who began their university careers at an independent Radcliffe College did in fact play on this team.
- Most likely the CBS Broadcast Center on 57th street, given that the tournament was produced for radio, though all the articles are weirdly vague about this.
- This was one of the two years in which the NCT used a 3-stage, 24-team format. The additional teams invited besides the 15 regional champions were Earlham, Harvard, Marshall, Oklahoma Baptist, Texas Christian, Georgia, Iowa, Notre Dame, and Vanderbilt.
- This was one of the two years in which the NCT used a 3-stage, 24-team format. The additional teams invited besides the 15 regional champions were Davidson, Marshall, Wisconsin-Eau Claire, Temple, Ohio State, Vanderbilt, Wake Forest, Wichita State, and Yale.
- "Georgia Southern University-Armstrong Campus" is the current full name of the school that was known as "Armstrong State College" at the time of this tournament.
- This year used a "sectional" stage between the RCT and NCT. Only the top four teams, presumably the sectional champions, actually participated in the final national stage. Whether any teams beyond the 15 regional champions were invited to participate in the sectionals has not been determined; thus, it is possible there was no wild card in this year.
- The school now known as Truman State University was called Northeast Missouri State University until June 1996.
- The Williams team attended the NCT site in 1999 but was not permitted to participate in games due to their faculty sponsor failing to arrive. This is counted as a nationals appearance in the table.
- There was no wild card team in 2003. The tournament ran with 15 teams.
- Florida State no-showed to the NCT in 2008. All of their games were recorded as losses with FSU scoring 0 points and each opponent scoring their tournament average PPG. This is not counted as an NCT appearance in the table.
- Includes teams which lost at the "Sectional" level in 1986.