|Motto||Character-driven intercollegiate athletics|
|Headquarters||1200 Grand Blvd|
Kansas City, Missouri 64106
|United States, Canada, and US Virgin Islands|
|NAIA Council of Presidents|
|Website||www.NAIA.org , www.PlayNAIA.org|
The National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) is a college athletics association for small colleges and universities in North America. For the 2020–2021 season, it has 249 member institutions,of which two are in British Columbia, one in the U.S. Virgin Islands, and the rest in the conterminous United States. The NAIA, whose headquarters is in Kansas City, Missouri, sponsors 27 national championships. The CBS Sports Network, formerly called CSTV, serves as the national media outlet for the NAIA. In 2014, ESPNU began carrying the NAIA Football National Championship.
In 1937, Dr. James Naismith and local leaders, including George Goldman and Emil Liston, staged the first National College Basketball Tournament at Municipal Auditorium in Kansas City, of which Mr. Goldman was Director,—one year before the first National Invitation Tournament and two years before the first NCAA Tournament. The goal of the tournament was to establish a forum for small colleges and universities to determine a national basketball champion. The original eight-team tournament expanded to 32 teams in 1938. On March 10, 1940, the National Association for Intercollegiate Basketball (NAIB) was formed in Kansas City, Missouri.
In 1952, the NAIB was transformed into the NAIA, and with that came the sponsorship of additional sports such as men's golf, tennis and outdoor track and field.Football in the NAIA was split into two divisions in 1970, based on enrollment (Div. I & Div. II); it was consolidated back into a single division in 1997.
The 1948 NAIB national tournament was the first intercollegiate postseason to feature a Black student-athlete, Clarence Walker of Indiana State under coach John Wooden. Wooden had withdrawn from the 1947 tournament because the NAIB would not allow Walker to play.
The association furthered its commitment to African-American athletes when, in 1953, it became the first collegiate association to invite Historically Black Colleges and Universities into its membership. In 1957, Tennessee A&I (now Tennessee State) became the first historically Black institution to win a collegiate basketball national championship. In 1959 Southern University became the first HBCU to win the NAIA Baseball championship.
The NAIA began sponsoring intercollegiate championships for women in 1980, the second coed national athletics association to do so, offering collegiate athletics championships to women in basketball, cross country, gymnastics, indoor and outdoor track and field, softball, swimming and diving, tennis and volleyball. The National Junior College Athletic Association had established a women's division in the spring of 1975 and held the first women's national championship volleyball tournament that fall.
In 1997, Liz Heaston became the first female college athlete to play and score in a college football game when she kicked two extra points during the 1997 Linfield vs. Willamette football game.
Launched in 2000 by the NAIA, the Champions of Character program promotes character and sportsmanship through athletics. The Champions of Character conducts clinics and has developed an online training course to educate athletes, coaches, and athletic administrators with the skills necessary to promote character development in the context of sport.
In 2010, the association opened the doors to the NAIA Eligibility Center, where prospective student-athletes are evaluated for academic and athletic eligibility. It delivers on the NAIA’s promise of integrity by leveling the playing field, guiding student-athlete success, and ensuring fair competition.
Membership – The NAIA was the first association to admit colleges and universities from outside the United States. The NAIA began admitting Canadian members in 1967.
Football – The NAIA was the first association to send a football team to Europe to play. In the summer of 1976, the NAIA sent Henderson State and Texas A&I to play 5 exhibition games in West Berlin, Vienna, Nuremberg, Mannheim and Paris.
Flag football In May 2020, the NAIA, in partnership with the NFL, announced the addition of flag football as a varsity sport for female student-athletes. The NAIA became the first collegiate governing body to sanction the sport at the varsity level. Women's flag will begin during the 2020—21 season as an emerging sport with at least 15 teams, the NAIA and NFL also expect upgrade the sport to an invitational level sport by 2022 with at least 25 teams.
The NAIA sponsors 14 sports in which it conducts 27 annual championships (13 for men, 12 for women, 2 co-ed). The NAIA recognizes three levels of competitions: "emerging" (15 or more institutions sponsoring as varsity and declared), "invitational" (25 or more institutions sponsoring as varsity and declared for postseason, Approval of the National Administrative Council), and "championship" (40 or more institutions sponsoring as varsity, Minimum of two Invitationals held, Approval of the National Administrative Council).The association conducts, or has conducted in the past, championship tournaments in the following sports (year established).
The NAIA men's basketball championship is the longest-running collegiate National Championship of any sport in the United States. The tournament was the brainchild of Dr. James Naismith, creator of the game of basketball; Emil Liston, athletic director at Baker University; and Frank Cramer, founder of Cramer Athletic Products.
The event began in 1937 with the inaugural tournament at Municipal Auditorium in Kansas City, Missouri. The 2017 men's championship marked the 80th edition of what has been tabbed College Basketball’s Toughest Tournament. The tournament has awarded the Chuck Taylor Most Valuable Player award since 1939, as well as the Charles Stevenson Hustle Award ("Charlie Hustle"), which was the basis for Pete Rose's nickname, given to him by Whitey Ford. Basketball is currently the only NAIA sport in which the organization's member institutions are aligned into divisions.
Effective with the 2020–21 academic year, the NAIA returned to a single division for both men's and women's basketball.
The NAIA has 21 member conferences, including 9 that sponsor football, and the Association of Independent Institutions.
Al Ortolani Scholarship (ATA) The $500 undergraduate scholarship is awarded to an outstanding student trainer who is at least a junior and has maintained a GPA of 3.00.
Athletic Trainer of the Year Presented to the NAIA-ATA member Athletic Trainer who has provided substantial service to student-athletes, the association or the member institution.
Charles Morris Award The award was initiated in memory and honor of past Associate Executive Director Charles Morris. The award is presented annually to recognize Conference, Region and a National Administrator of the Year.
The recipient should exemplify the loyalty and enthusiasm Charles Morris had for the NAIA. Nominees must be active as an administrator at a member institution or in conference/regional committee organizations.
Clarence "Ike" Pearson (SIDA) Given annually to a member of the NAIA-Sports Information Directors Association to honor outstanding contributions to the profession. The award is named for the former statistical crew chief of the NAIA men's basketball national tournament in Kansas City, Missouri.
Coach of Character Award The NAIA Coach of Character Award is an annual award given to a head coach of an NAIA institution. The nominee must be employed by the institution a minimum of 5 years and must be clearly outstanding in embracing the five core values of the NAIA Champions of Character initiative, methods of teaching character through sport, and community leadership through volunteering, service or other means.
A.O. Duer Award Named in honor of the NAIA's former executive secretary for his 26 years of service to the Association. The A.O. Duer Award emphasizes our policy of scholarship in athletic programs. The award is presented annually to a junior men's and women's student-athlete in any sport who has excelled academically as well as athletically.
To be eligible, a student-athlete must have an overall grade point average of at least 3.75 (on a 4.00 scale) and be in her/his junior year academically.
Emil S. Liston Award The founder of the NAIB and the first executive secretary of the NAIA, Mr. Liston was a prime mover behind the men's basketball tournament. The award is annually presented to a junior men's and women's basketball player who has shown athletic and scholastic achievement.
To be eligible, a student-athlete must have an overall grade point average of at least 3.50 (on a 4.00 scale) and be in her/his junior year academically. Each award consists of a $1,000 scholarship presented to the recipient’s institution to be used for tuition and approved expenses and an appropriate award is presented to the honoree.
Hall Of Fame The NAIA Hall of Fame Award is the highest honor presented by the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics. Nominees must be persons of outstanding quality, high moral character, fine leadership ability and must be held in high esteem by their colleagues, former coaches and former athletes.
Larry Lady Officiating Award The NAIA Larry Lady Officiating Award is presented annually to an official of any sport recognized by the NAIA. It is named in honor of Larry Lady, current NAIA Supervisor of Officials for basketball, football and baseball. Nominees must be persons of outstanding quality, high moral character, fine officiating ability and be held in high esteem by their colleagues, administrators and athletes.
The recipient will receive an award of $500 to be used by recipient, a member of the recipient’s family or family friend who attends an NAIA institution.
NAIA-CTSA "All That's Right in Sport" Award The Citizenship through Sports Alliance (CTSA) and the NAIA have partnered to annually honor one NAIA institution, team or individual for actions that have clear connections to sportsmanship, and bring with them outstanding stories that motivate and inspire. All Buffalo Funds Five Star Champions of Character Team Award Winners, as well as institutional nominations, are eligible for this special recognition. The recipient (up to 2 team/institutional representatives) will be provided round-trip transportation to the awards ceremony held in conjunction with the annual CTSA Awards Banquet.
Dr. Leroy Walker Character Award This award was created to honor Dr. LeRoy Walker a former president of the NAIA and President emeritus of the United States Olympic Committee.
The nominee must be a representative of an NAIA institution as a student-athlete. The nominee must be at least a junior academic status at the nominating institution at the time of nomination, and must be “outstanding” in academic achievement (3.0 G.P.A or higher), campus leadership, community leadership, embracing the five core character values of the NAIA Champions of Character initiative, athletic achievement and future ambition.
The recipient will receive a $1,000 cash award to the institution scholarship fund of recipient’s choice. The recipient also receives a specially engraved plaque/revere bowl as a permanent memento of the award.
Wally Schwartz Award The Faculty Athletic Representative Association has initiated this award to honor past Vice-President of Legislative Services, Wally Schwartz. The Award will annually recognize Conference, Independent and a National FAR of the Year. The recipient should exemplify the loyalty, enthusiasm, and honesty that Wally Schwartz had, and still has, shown on behalf of the NAIA.
Athletic Director of the Year Presented annually to the top athletic director who excels in the areas of budget development, facility development, promotion of student-athlete academic achievement, involvement in the Champions of Character initiative, athletic success, and service to the NAIA or community.
Pattison Champions of Character Scholarships Sponsored by Dr. Phil and Mary Pattison, longtime NAIA supporters, awarded $2,000 scholarships to five NAIA student-athletes that participate in the NAIA DI Men's basketball tournament, and display the five core values of the Champions of Character program-respect, responsibility, integrity, servant leadership and sportsmanship.
The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) is a nonprofit organization that regulates student athletes from up to 1,268 North American institutions and conferences. It also organizes the athletic programs of colleges and universities in the United States and Canada, and helps over 480,000 college student-athletes who compete annually in college sports. The organization is headquartered in Indianapolis, Indiana.
The Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference (NSIC) is a collegiate athletic conference which operates in the western Midwestern United States. Nine of its members are in Minnesota, with three members in South Dakota, two members in North Dakota, and one member each in the states of Iowa and Nebraska. It participates in the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA)'s Division II level. It was founded in 1932. With the recent NSIC expansion, the original six member schools have been reunited. With the inclusion of the several new member institutions, it is one of the largest Division II conferences in the country with 16 members.
Blue Mountain College (BMC) is a private liberal arts college, supported by the Mississippi Baptist Convention, located in the northeastern Mississippi town of Blue Mountain not far from Tupelo. Founded as a women's college in 1873, the college's board of trustees voted unanimously for the college to go fully co-educational in 2005.
The National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics Men's Basketball National Championship has been held annually since 1937. The tournament was established by James Naismith to crown a national champion for smaller colleges and universities. Through the 2019–20 season, the NAIA Tournament featured 32 teams, and the entire tournament was contested at one location in one week, rather than multiple locations over a series of weekends. Beginning with the 2021 edition, the tournament will expand to 64 teams, but will start with play at 16 regional sites, with only the winners at these sites playing at the finals venue. From 1992 to 2020, the NAIA sponsored a Division II championship. The Division I tournament is played in Kansas City, Missouri, while in 2020, the Division II tournament was to be held for the last time at the Sanford Pentagon in Sioux Falls, South Dakota; however, the tournaments were called off due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC) is a college athletic conference comprising schools that compete in 15 sports. It has 220 member institutions in NCAA Divisions I, II, and III, ranging in location from Maine to South Carolina and west to Missouri. Most or all members belong to at least one other athletic conference.
The Association for Intercollegiate Athletics for Women (AIAW) was founded in 1971 to govern collegiate women's athletics in the United States and to administer national championships. It evolved out of the Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics for Women. The association was one of the biggest advancements for women's athletics on the collegiate level. Throughout the 1970s, the AIAW grew rapidly in membership and influence, in parallel with the national growth of women's sports following the enactment of Title IX. The AIAW functioned in the equivalent role for college women's programs that the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) had been doing for men's programs. Owing to its own success, the AIAW was in a vulnerable position that precipitated conflicts with the NCAA in the early 1980s. Following a one-year overlap in which both organizations staged women's championships, the AIAW discontinued operation, and most member schools continued their women's athletics programs under the governance of the NCAA.
An All-America team is a hypothetical American sports team composed of outstanding amateur players. These players are broadly considered by media and other relevant commentators as the best players in a particular sport, of a specific two seasons, for each team position.
College basketball in the United States is governed by collegiate athletic bodies including National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA), the United States Collegiate Athletic Association (USCAA), the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA), and the National Christian College Athletic Association (NCCAA). Each of these various organizations are subdivided into from one to three divisions based on the number and level of scholarships that may be provided to the athletes.
NCAA Division III (D-III) is a division of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) in the United States. D-III consists of athletic programs at colleges and universities that choose not to offer athletic scholarships to their student-athletes.
NCAA Division II (D-II) is an intermediate-level division of competition in the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA). It offers an alternative to both the larger and better-funded Division I and to the scholarship-free environment offered in Division III.
College athletics in the United States or college sports in the United States refers primarily to sports and athletic competition organized and funded by institutions of tertiary education.
The Crossroads League is an athletic conference composed of NAIA private Christian colleges in Indiana, Michigan and Ohio. The current conference commissioner is Larry DeSimpelare.
College lacrosse is played by student-athletes at colleges and universities in the United States and Canada. In both countries, men's field lacrosse and women's lacrosse are played at both the varsity and club levels. College lacrosse in Canada is sponsored by the Canadian University Field Lacrosse Association (CUFLA) and Maritime University Field Lacrosse League (MUFLL), while in the United States, varsity men's and women's lacrosse is governed by the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) and National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA). There are also university lacrosse programs in the United Kingdom sponsored by British Universities and Colleges Sport (BUCS) and programs in Japan.
The Academic All-America program is a student-athlete recognition program. The program selects an honorary sports team composed of the most outstanding student-athletes of a specific season for positions in various sports—who in turn are given the honorific "Academic All-American". Since 1952, CoSIDA has bestowed Academic All-American recognition on male and female athletes in Divisions I, II, and III of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) as well as athletes in the NAIA, other U.S. four-year schools, two-year colleges, and Canadian universities, covering all championship sports. The award honors student-athletes who have performed well academically while regularly competing for their institution.
The 1947 National Association for Intercollegiate Basketball (NAIB) National Tournament was held in March at Municipal Auditorium in Kansas City, Missouri. The 10th annual men's basketball tournament of what is now the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) featured 32 teams playing in a single-elimination format. It would be the first time since 1945 the NAIA Semifinalist would feature four new teams. Becoming the 3rd tournament to do so, and a feat that would not be repeated until 1965.
The Lindenwood Lions and Lady Lions are the intercollegiate athletic teams of Lindenwood University, located in St. Charles, Missouri. The school is primarily a member of the NCAA Division II Great Lakes Valley Conference, although women's ice hockey and gymnastics and men's volleyball compete in NCAA Division I. The Lions joined the NCAA and the Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association (MIAA) in the summer of 2013, after completing the transition process from the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) and the Heart of America Athletic Conference (HAAC). On October 4, 2018, Lindenwood announced it would be leaving the MIAA for the Great Lakes Valley Conference effective July 1, 2019.
The Guilford Quakers are the athletic teams that represent Guilford College, located in Greensboro, North Carolina, United States in NCAA Division III intercollegiate sports. The Quakers compete as members of the Old Dominion Athletic Conference. Altogether, Guilford sponsors 18 sports: nine each for men and women, respectively.
College club sports in the United States are any sports offered at a university or college in the United States that compete competitively with other universities, or colleges, but are not regulated by the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) or National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA), and do not have varsity status. Collegiate club sports can exist at schools that do have teams that are part of the NCAA or NAIA. Many times, club sports are student-run and receive little financial aid from the school. An estimated 2 million student athletes compete in club sports.
The Limestone Saints are the athletic teams that represent Limestone University, located in Gaffney, South Carolina, in NCAA Division II intercollegiate sporting competitions. The Saints compete as members of the South Atlantic Conference (SAC) for most sports, having joined that league in July 2020 after 22 years in Conference Carolinas (CC). Limestone maintains CC membership in two sports, specifically men's wrestling and women's acrobatics & tumbling. Men's wrestling is one of two sports in which the SAC and CC operate as a single league, the other being women's field hockey. The SAC operates the field hockey championship, while CC operates the wrestling championship. The men's volleyball team competes as an independent. The swim team competed in the Bluegrass Mountain Conference before being dropped in 2018; the field hockey and wrestling teams were members of the ECAC–Division II before 2018, when the SAC and CC established their alliance in those two sports. The football team had been independent, but entered into a scheduling agreement with the SAC in 2015. This agreement was replaced in 2017 by formal affiliate membership, which continued until the Saints joined the SAC full-time in 2020.
The Tennessee State Tigers and Lady Tigers are the intercollegiate athletic teams of Tennessee State University (TSU), located in Nashville, Tennessee, United States. The Tigers athletic program is a member of the Ohio Valley Conference (OVC) and competes in the NCAA Division I, including the Football Championship Subdivision. The women's track team is also known as the Tigerbelles. As a member of the Ohio Valley Conference, Tennessee State is one of two HBCU competing in Division I that is not a member of an athletic conference made up entirely of historically black institutions, the other being Hampton University of the Big South. The TSU mascot is Aristocat the Tiger, and the school colors are blue and white.