The Boot Hill Bowl

Kathie Bell
Special to the Globe
The Boot Hill Bowl held from 1970 through 1980, with a part of an ad from 1972. SUBMITTED PHOTO

It wasn't quite as prestigious as the Rose Bowl, but for 11 seasons Dodge City was home to a postseason collegiate bowl game.

From 1970 through 1980, the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) held its annual Boot Hill Bowl game in early December or late November at Dodge City's Memorial Stadium.

The NAIA is a college athletics association for small colleges and universities in North America.

The roots of this organization stem from 1937 with the first National College Basketball Tournament in Kansas City, Mo. Dr. James Naismith, inventor of the game of basketball spearheaded this contest. The eight-team tournament grew and, in 1940, Emil S. Liston founded the National Association for Intercollegiate Basketball (NAIB).

In 1952, the NAIB began sponsoring other sports and became the NAIA. These two associations are noted for being pioneers for encouraging African-Americans and African American colleges and universities.

And in 1980, they began sponsoring intercollegiate championships for women.

As early as 1956, the NAIA began hosting football championships. In 1970, they sanctioned the first Boot Hill Bowl, a post-season college football "bowl" game.

On December 1, Cameron College, Lawton, Okla. edged out New Mexico Highland University, Las Vegas, 13 to 12.

The very next year on December 4, the Dakota State College Trojans of Madison, S.Dak. made history when they became the first college football team from South Dakota to win a post-season bowl game, beating Northwestern Oklahoma State 23 to 20 in the Boot Hill Bowl.

Another notable Boot Hill Bowl game was on November 30, 1974, where Washburn University, Topeka beat Millikin University, Decatur, Ill., 21-7. It is remarkable, not for its teams or who won but, for the incredibly cold weather at 10 degrees Fahrenheit and a wind gusting 40 miles per hour. That created a "feel like" temperature of minus 15!

On Nov. 21, 1980, Cameron College returned for the last Boot Hill Bowl game, defeating Adams State, Alamosa Colo., 34 to 16.

In its 11-year run most of the Boot Hill Bowl teams were from the central U.S.

Perhaps it was the name which led to the Boot Hill Bowl's demise. For the most part, people in Dodge City embrace "Boot Hill," however people from other parts might see the moniker as morbid.

A few articles have since appeared in the media calling the Boot Hill Bowl one of the worst bowl names in history.

But the NAIA is still going strong. Headquartered in Kansas City, it has 251 member institutions - two in British Columbia, Canada and one in the U.S. Virgin Islands.

It sponsors 26 national tournaments. The CBS Sports Network and ESPNU air their sporting events.