10 Best NAIA Schools in Florida For Student-Athletes

NAIA schools in Florida: Florida is known for its beaches, orange juice, and hurricanes, it is also home to some of the best NAIA schools.

You may have heard of the term NAIA, but you might not know exactly what it means.

NAIA stands for National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics, and these colleges participate in sports for both men and women, with over 250 teams across the United States and Canada.

Florida on the other hand is a great place for student-athletes, there are many schools to choose from and the weather is perfect for playing sports year-round. 

Even if you don’t enroll in an NAIA school in Florida, we have an article that covers over 260 NAIA schools across the states that can help you make a more informed decision about your career.

You can specifically check out the NAIA schools in California, Michigan, Alabama, Texas, Ohio, Tennessee, Georgia, North Carolina, and even Arizona.

What are the best NAIA Schools in Florida?

NAIA Schools in Florida

Florida is home to ten NAIA schools competing in different conferences which include; Southeastern University, Keiser University, Florida College, Webber International University, Ave Maria University, Florida National University, Florida Memorial University, St Thomas University, Warner University, and Johnson & Wales University – Miami.

Best NAIA Universities in Florida Teams City
Southeastern University Southeastern Fire Lakeland
Keiser University Keiser Seahawks West Palm Beach
Florida College Florida College Falcons Temple Terrace
Webber International University Webber International Warriors Babson Park
Ave Maria University Ave Maria Gyrenes Ave Maria
Florida National University Florida National Conquistadors Hialeah
Florida Memorial University Florida Memorial University Miami Gardens
St Thomas University St. Thomas Bobcats Miami Gardens
Warner University Warner Royals Lake Wales
Johnson & Wales University – Miami Wild Cats Miami

1. Southeastern University

Founded in 1935, Southeastern University is a private, Christian liberal arts college located in Lakeland, Florida.

The school’s athletic teams compete for both men’s and women’s varsity sports in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) and are known as the Fire.

The Fire of Southeastern University competes predominantly in the Sun Conference, they have also competed as an NAIA independent within the Association of Independent Institutions (AII) during the 2008–09 school year.

The Fire of Southeastern University competes in 19 different intercollegiate sports which include;

  • Baseball and basketball
  • Cross country and football
  • Golf, soccer, tennis
  • Track & field and wrestling

The women are also involved in cheerleading.

Here are some of the school’s notable alumni;

  • Melony Bell, politician
  • Jacob Blankenship, a professional basketball player.
  • Gerritson Craane, soccer player for the Curaçao national football team
  • Bryan Duncan, American contemporary Christian music artist
  • Dee Gordon, MLB All-Star second baseman with the Seattle Mariners.

Contact details:

Address: 1000 Longfellow Blvd, Lakeland, FL 33801, United States.

Phone: +1 863-667-5000.

2. Keiser University

With its main campus in Fort Lauderdale, Keiser University is a private, not-for-profit university with over 20,000 students and offers over 100 programs at the undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral levels.

In 2021, US News of World Reports ranked Keiser University as #284 in the best national universities.

Keiser University is also one of the best NAIA schools in Florida with its athletic team called the Seahawks competing in 26 varsity sports and predominantly in the Sun Conference.

Here are some of the NAIA sports programs that the Seahawks compete in for both men and women;

  • Baseball and basketball
  • Cross country and football
  • Golf and lacrosse
  • Soccer and swimming
  • Tennis, track & field (indoor and outdoor), and wrestling

Co-ed sports include eSports and spirit squads and club sports include equestrian and fishing.

Contact details:

Address: 1500 NW 49th St, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33309, United States.

Phone: +1 954-776-4456.

3. Florida College

Founded in 1946, Florida College is a private Christian college offering bachelors and associate degrees in Temple Terrace, Florida.

Florida College is also one of the best NAIA colleges in Florida competing predominantly in the Continental Athletic Conference since the 2021–22 academic year.

The Florida College athletic teams are called the Falcons and compete in 11 intercollegiate varsity sports for both men and women, they include;

  • Basketball and cross country
  • Golf, volleyball, and soccer
  • Track & field (outdoor)

The women are also involved in cheerleading.

Contact details:

Address: 119 N Glen Arven Ave, Temple Terrace, FL 33617, United States.

Phone: +1 813-988-5131

4. Webber International University

Webber International University, also known as Webber is a private, not-for-profit university in Babson Park, Florida.

Webber is one of the best NAIA universities in Florida, its athletic team, the Warriors competes predominantly in the Sun Conference.

The school has an internationally respected bowling program and has produced notable alumni doing well in life, they include;

  • Vince Anderson, former NFL defensive back
  • Verity Crawley, professional bowler in Professional Women’s Bowling Association (PWBA)
  • Bo Dallas, a professional wrestler
  • Gary Faulkner Jr., the ten-pin bowler, competes on PBA Tour
  • Taula “Hikuleo” Fifita, professional wrestler
  • Daria Pająk, ten-pin bowler in Professional Women’s Bowling Association (PWBA)

Webber International competes in 22 intercollegiate varsity sports for both men and women, this includes;

  • Baseball and basketball
  • Bowling and cross country
  • Football and golf
  • Lacrosse and soccer
  • Track & field and volleyball

Contact details:

Address: 1201 N Scenic Hwy, Babson Park, FL 33827, United States.

Phone: +1 863-638-2910.

5. Ave Maria University

Founded in 2003, Ave Maria University is one of the best liberal arts national universities, it is a private institution that is religiously affiliated with the Roman Catholic church in Ave Maria, Florida.

As one of the best Florida NAIA schools, Ave Maria’s athletic team, the Gyrenes competes primarily in the Sun Conference and has competed previously as an NAIA Independent within the Association of Independent Institutions (AII) during the 2008–09 school year (when the school joined the NAIA).

The Gyrenes compete in 24 intercollegiate varsity sports for both men and women, this includes;

  • Baseball and basketball
  • Cross country and football
  • Golf and soccer
  • Swimming and beach volleyball
  • Tennis, track & field (indoor and outdoor) 

Contact details:

Address: 5050 Ave Maria Blvd, Ave Maria, FL 34142, United States.

Phone: +1 239-280-2556.

6. Florida National University

As one of the best NAIA Universities in Florida, Florida National University is committed to providing its students with a well-rounded education, it is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS).

The school offers a variety of programs and degrees, including several sports-related options, the school’s athletics program is top-notch, with plenty of opportunities for students to get involved.

Founded in 1988, Florida National University is a private for-profit university in Hialeah, Florida, the student body is diverse, though primarily Hispanic.

The athletic team at Florida National University is called the Conquistadors, and they compete in 13 different intercollegiate varsity sports for both men and women, this includes;

  • Baseball and basketball
  • Cross country and soccer
  • Tennis and volleyball
  • Track & field

The Conquistadors primarily competes as an NAIA Independent within the Continental Athletic Conference since the 2018–19 academic year.

Contact details:

Address: 4425 W 20th Ave, Hialeah, FL 33012, United States.

Phone: +1 305-821-3333.

7. Florida Memorial University

Florida Memorial University is a private historically black university in Miami Gardens, Florida, it is also one of the oldest academic institutions in the state.

This school is religiously affiliated with the Baptist Church and it offers both undergraduate and graduate programs.

As one of the best NAIA Universities in Florida, the Florida Memorial University’s athletic team called the Lions competes in 13 intercollegiate varsity sports for both men and women, this includes;

  • Baseball and basketball
  • Football amd volleyball
  • Soccer and softball
  • Track & field

Co-ed sports include cheerleading.

The Lions of Florida Memorial University compete primarily in the Sun Conference and here are some of the notable alumni;

  • Barrington Irving, Jr.
  • Harry T. Moore
  • Freddie Lee Peterkin Soul
  • Grisha Heyliger-Marten

Contact details:

Address: 15800 NW 42nd Ave, Miami Gardens, FL 33054, United States.

Phone: +1 305-626-3600.

8. St Thomas University

St. Thomas University is a private Catholic university with rich cultural and international diversity in Miami Gardens, Florida.

St. Thomas University is also one of the NAIA universities in Florida with its athletic team called the Bobcats competing primarily in the Sun Conference.

The Bobcats of St. Thomas University compete in 28 intercollegiate varsity sports for both men and women, this includes:

  • Baseball and basketball
  • Cross country and golf
  • Football and softball
  • Rugby, soccer, swimming & diving
  • Tennis, track & field, and wrestling

Contact details:

Address: 16401 NW 37th Ave, Miami Gardens, FL 33054, United States.

Phone: +1 305-625-6000.

9. Warner University

If you’re looking for a great NAIA school in Florida, Warner University is a great choice, it is located in Lake Wales, and is a Christ-centered school that offers a wide range of academic programs.

As one of the best NAIA athletic schools in the state, Warner University athletic team called the Royals competes in 21 sports teams, so there’s sure to be an athletic program that’s right for you.

And if you’re looking for a school with a beautiful campus, Warner University definitely fits the bill too.

The Royals of Warner Univerity competes predominantly in the Sun Conference and here are some of the intercollege varsity sports they compete in;

  • Baseball and basketball
  • Cross country and football
  • Soccer and lacrosse
  • Tennis and softball
  • Track & field and volleyball

Contact details:

Address: 13895 US-27, Lake Wales, FL 33859, United States.

Phone: +1 863-638-1426.

10. Johnson & Wales University – Miami

Johnson & Wales University – Miami offers a well-rounded experience for student-athletes, with a focus on both academics and athletics, JWU ensures that students have the opportunity to excel in their chosen field.

Plus, with a location in Miami, student-athletes have access to some of the best facilities and coaches in the country.

The athletic team of Johnson Wales University is called the Wildcats and were members of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA), primarily competing in the Sun Conference from 2009–10 to 2019–20.

The Wildcats competed in 11 intercollegiate varsity sports for both men and women, this includes;

  • Basketball
  • Cross country
  • Golf
  • soccer
  • Track & field

Contact details:

Address: 1701 NE 127th St, North Miami, FL 33181, United States.

Phone: +1 866-598-3567.

Conclusion

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Frequently Asked Questions

What is the difference between varsity and club sports?

In varsity sports, student-athletes represent their schools, whereas club athletes can represent their whole communities.

How many student-athletes are there in the US?

According to NFHS.org, there are more than 480,000 student-athletes in the United States.

Can you play 2 sports at the same time in high school?

Most high school athletes are allowed to play on only three teams, but it's rare for anyone to play on more than one in the same season.

Author’s Recommendation

To read more articles about athletic schools, visit our ATHLETIC SCHOOLS category, but if you are just interested in NAIA member schools, visit our NAIA Colleges category.

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