The 11 Best NAIA Schools in Kentucky for Aspiring Athletes

Best NAIA Schools in Kentucky: The National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) was established in 1938 with the goal of governing collegiate sports in the United States and Canada.

Today, there are over 250 member schools in the NAIA, including several in Kentucky that provides excellent athletic programs in which athletes can participate if they aren’t able to play on the varsity level at larger universities.

In this article, we shall cover the 11 best NAIA schools in Kentucky so you can make a more informed college decision.

But before that, you might be interested in our previous rankings which include;

Is it worth being a student-athlete in college?

If you are very enthusiastic about sports, it is only normal to consider colleges that offer athletic programs, and although there are disadvantages to it, the advantage is always greater.

It is worth being a student-athlete in college because it helps you become successful, and an athletic college will groom you to become more of a team player.

As a student-athlete in college, here are some of the core qualities you will be groomed at;

  • Leadership
  • Confidence
  • Discipline
  • Effective time management, and
  • Teamwork

With these qualities, you can be prepared for the world, and they will always give you an edge over your competition.

What are the best NAIA Schools in Kentucky?

NAIA Schools in Kentucky

There are currently 11 top NAIA colleges in Kentucky, they include;

  • Alice Lloyd College
  • Brescia University
  • Campbellsville University
  • University of the Cumberlands
  • Georgetown College
  • Kentucky Christian University
  • Lindsey Wilson College
  • Midway University
  • University of Pikeville
  • Thomas More University
  • Union College

1. Alice Lloyd College, Pippa Passes, KY.

Alice Lloyd College is a private, four-year college, known for its rich tradition, the school was co-founded by the journalist Alice Spencer Geddes Lloyd and June Buchanan in 1923.

As one of the top NAIA colleges in Kentucky, the school’s athletic team (the Eagles) competes majorly in the River States Conference (RSC; formerly known as the Kentucky Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (KIAC).

The Eagles of Alice Lloyd’s athletic team are known for their trademark blue and white colors and they compete currently in 15 NAIA intercollegiate athletic sports for both men and women.

Alice Lloyd College Men’s sports include:

Baseball, basketball, cross country, golf, soccer, and track & field (indoor and outdoor).

Alice Lloyd College Women’s sports include:

Basketball, cheerleading, cross country, soccer, softball, track & field (indoor and outdoor), and volleyball.

Alice Lloyd College Club sports include:

Bass fishing, eSports, and men’s & women’s tennis.

Related: 5 Best NAIA Schools in Arizona for Student Athletes

2. Brescia University, Owensboro, KY.

Brescia University was founded as a junior college for women, but it is now a co-educational university, it is a private Roman Catholic university that is located in Owensboro, Kentucky.

Students at Brescia University compete in a wide variety of sports in the River States Conference at the NAIA level.

Brescia University’s athletic team (the Bearcats) competes in 18 intercollegiate varsity sports for both men and women.

Brescia University’s Men’s sports include:

Baseball, basketball, cross country, golf, soccer, tennis, and track & field.

Brescia University’s Women’s sports include:

Basketball, cross country, golf, soccer, softball, tennis, track & field, and volleyball.

Brescia University’s co-ed sports include:

Cheerleading, dance, and eSports.

Related: 21 Best NAIA Schools in Georgia for Student Athletes

3. Campbellsville University, Campbellsville, KY.

Campbellsville University (CU) was founded as a baptist college, it is, however, open to all denominations. It is a private Christian university with more than 12,000 students.

Campbellsville University is one of the top NAIA universities in Kentucky, their athletic team is called the Tigers and they are known for their maroon and gray colors.

Campbellsville University primarily competes in the Mid-South Conference (MSC) since the 1995–96 academic year.

From 1964-65 to 1994-95, the Tigers of Campbellsville University competed in the Kentucky Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (KIAC; now currently known as the River States Conference (RSC) )

Campbellsville University is also one of the NAIA schools offering Need-based and academic scholarships and their athletic team competes in 30 intercollegiate varsity sports for both men and women.

Campbellsville University’s Men’s sports include:

Baseball, basketball, bowling, cross country, football, golf, soccer, swimming, tennis, track & field, volleyball, and wrestling

Campbellsville University’s Women’s sports include:

Basketball, bowling, cross country, dance, flag football, golf, soccer, softball, swimming, tennis, track & field, volleyball, and wrestling

Campbellsville University’s Co-ed sports include:

Archery, bass fishing, kayak bass fishing, cheerleading, and eSports.

Related: 5 Best NAIA Schools in Alabama for Athletics

4. University of the Cumberlands, Williamsburg, KY.

The University of Cumberlands is one of the religious private universities in Williamsburg, founded in 1888 by Baptist ministers as Cumberland College.

Cumberland is also one of the NAIA universities in Kentucky, featuring at the NAIA Division I, their athletic team (the Patriots) competes primarily in the Mid-South Conference (MSC) for most of its sports since the 1995–96 academic year.

It might interest you to know that the men’s lacrosse team competes in the Appalachian Athletic Conference (AAC).

From 1966-67 to 1994-95, the Patriots of the Cumberlands competed in the Kentucky Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (KIAC).

Currently, the University of Cumberlands competes in 28 intercollegiate varsity sports for both men’s and women’s sports.

The University of Cumberlands Men’s sports include:

Baseball, basketball, bowling, cross country, football, golf, lacrosse, soccer, swimming & diving, tennis, track & field, and wrestling.

The University of Cumberlands Women’s sports include:

Basketball, bowling, cross country, golf, lacrosse, soccer, softball, swimming & diving, tennis, track & field, volleyball, and wrestling.

The University of Cumberlands Co-ed sports include:

Archery, cheerleading, dance, and eSports.

Related: The 14 Best NAIA Schools in Missouri For Student-Athletes

5. Georgetown College, Georgetown, KY.

Georgetown College is one of the athletic schools in Kentucky with an astounding amount of athletic talent, the school supports these student-athletes with scholarships and coaching facilities.

Students at Georgetown College compete in a wide variety of sports in the Mid-South Conference at the NAIA level.

Georgetown College’s athletic team is called the Tigers and they previously competed in the Kentucky Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (KIAC) from 1916–17 to 1994–95.

Currently, Georgetown College’s athletic team competes in 22 intercollegiate varsity sports for both men’s and women’s sports.

Georgetown College’s Men’s sports include:

Baseball, basketball, cross country, football, golf, soccer, tennis, track & field (indoor and outdoor), and volleyball.

Georgetown College’s Women’s sports include:

Basketball, cross country, golf, lacrosse, soccer, softball, tennis, track & field (indoor and outdoor), and volleyball.

Georgetown College’s Co-ed sports include:

Archery and cheerleading.

Related: 11 Best NAIA Schools in Michigan For Student-Athletes

6. Kentucky Christian University, Grayson, KY.

Founded in 1919 as Christian Normal Institute, Kentucky Christian University (KCU) is a private Christian university and one of the NAIA member universities in Kentucky.

The school’s athletic team is called the Knights and Lady Knights compete in the Appalachian Athletic Conference (AAC) since the 2019–20 academic year.

The Knights and Lady Knights previously competed as an independent in the Mid-East Region of the Division II level as a member of the National Christian College Athletic Association (NCCAA).

Before they joined the NAIA, the Kentucky Christian University athletic team competed as an NAIA Independent within the Association of Independent Institutions (AII) from 2008–09 to 2018–19.

Currently, Kentucky Christian University competes in 17 intercollegiate varsity sports for both men’s and women’s sports.

Kentucky Christian University Men’s sports include:

Baseball, basketball, cross country, football, golf, soccer, and track & field,

Kentucky Christian University Women’s sports include:

Basketball, cheerleading, cross country, golf, soccer, softball, track and field, and volleyball.

Kentucky Christian University Co-ed sports include:

Archery, bass fishing, and cheerleading.

Related: 10 Best NAIA Schools in Florida For Student-Athletes

7. Lindsey Wilson College, Columbia, KY.

Lindsey Wilson College is also one of the private religious colleges affiliated with the Methodist Church in Kentucky.

As one of the top NAIA member colleges in the state, Lindsey Wilson College’s athletic team (the Blue Raiders) competes primarily in the Mid-South Conference (MSC) since the 2000–01 academic year.

From 1844-45 to 1999-2000, the Blue Raiders competed in the Kentucky Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (KIAC).

Currently, the Blue Raiders compete in 25 NAIA intercollegiate varsity sports for both men and women.

Lindsey Wilson College Men’s sports include:

Baseball, basketball, bowling, cross country, football, golf, soccer, swimming, tennis, track and field, and wrestling.

Lindsey Wilson College Women’s sports include:

Basketball, bowling, cross country, dance, golf, soccer, softball, swimming, tennis, track and field, and volleyball.

Lindsey Wilson College Co-ed sports include:

Archery, cheerleading, and cycling.

Related: 8 Best NAIA Schools in Nebraska for Prospective Students

8. Midway University, Midway, KY.

Midway University is another private Christian university in Kentucky that is affiliated with the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ).

The student-athletes at Midway compete primarily in the River States Conference as a member of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA).

The athletic team is called the Eagles and their men’s and women’s bowling, swimming, men’s volleyball, and men’s wrestling teams also compete in the Mid-South Conference (MSC).

Currently, the Eagles of Midway University compete in 28 intercollegiate varsity sports for both men and women.

Midway University’s Men’s sports include:

Baseball, basketball, bowling, cross country, golf, soccer, sprint football, swimming, tennis, track & field, volleyball, and wrestling.

Midway University Women’s sports include:

Basketball, bowling, cross country, golf, soccer, softball, swimming, tennis, track & field, and volleyball.

Midway University’s Co-ed sports include:

Archery, cheer, dance, eSports, and equestrian.

Related: The 8 Best NAIA Schools in Oklahoma, Don’t Miss Out!

9. University of Pikeville, Pikeville, KY.

Next on our list is the University of Pikeville, a private religious university founded in 1889 and affiliated with the Presbyterian Church.

The University of Pikeville is also one of the athletic schools in Kentucky and its student-athletic team is called the Pikeville Bears.

The Pikeville Bears competes primarily in the Mid-South Conference (MSC) since the 2000–01 academic year, and from 1958-59 to 1999-2000, they competed in the Kentucky Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (KIAC; now currently known as the River States Conference (RSC).

Currently, the University of Pikeville competes in 25 NAIA intercollegiate varsity sports for both men’s and women’s sports.

The University of Pikeville men’s sports include:

Baseball, basketball, bowling, cross country, football, golf, soccer, swimming, tennis, track & field, and wrestling.

The University of Pikeville women’s sports include:

Basketball, bowling, cross country, golf, soccer, softball, swimming, tennis, track & field, and volleyball.

The University of Pikeville Co-ed sports include:

Archery, cheerleading, dance, and eSports.

Related: The Best NAIA Schools in North Carolina For Student-Athletes

10. Thomas More University, Crestview Hills, KY.

Thomas More University was founded in 1921 by the local Benedictine Sisters and is a private Roman Catholic university in Crestview Hills, Kentucky. 

Thomas More in July 2022 was granted membership in the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division II, however, the school’s athletic team (the Saints) currently competes in the Mid-South Conference of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA).

The Saints of Thomas More University will keep competing as an NAIA member school until the completion of the 2022-23 academic year.

Thomas More University currently competes in 29 varsity sports programs for both men and women.

Thomas More University Men’s sports include:

Archery, band, baseball, basketball, bowling, cheerleading, cross country, football, golf, lacrosse, rugby, soccer, tennis, track & field, volleyball, and wrestling.

Thomas More University Women’s sports include:

Archery, band, basketball, bowling, cheerleading, cross country, dance, golf, lacrosse, soccer, softball, tennis, track & field, and volleyball.

For the 2022-2023 academic year, the Saints of Thomas More University will also compete in eSports, this announcement was made in June 2022 when the school confirmed the launch of the sports program.

This eSports program will be part of the National Association of Collegiate Esports (NACE) and it shall be a competitive, organized video gaming.

11. Union College, Barbourville, KY.

The last on our list of the best NAIA colleges in Kentucky is Union College, founded in 1879, this private college in Barbourville, Kentucky is religiously affiliated with the United Methodist Church.

Union College’s athletic team is called the Union Bulldogs and Lady Bulldogs, they predominantly compete in the Appalachian Athletic Conference (AAC) for most of its sports since the 2002–03 academic year.

From 1995-96 to 2001-02, Union College’s men’s & women’s bowling and archery teams previously competed as full members in the Mid-South Conference (MSC).

Currently, Union College participates in 22 intercollegiate varsity sports for both men and women.

Union College Men’s sports include:

Baseball, basketball, bowling, cross country, football, golf, soccer, swimming & diving, tennis, and track & field.

Union College Women’s sports include:

Basketball, bowling, cross country, golf, soccer, softball, swimming & diving, tennis, track & field, and volleyball.

Union College Co-ed sports include:

Archery and cheerleading.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the best NCAA Division I schools in Kentucky?

There are eight top universities in Kentucky that are part of the NCAA, they include; Bellarmine University, Eastern Kentucky University, University of Kentucky, University of Louisville, Morehead State University, Murray State University, Northern Kentucky University, and Western Kentucky University.

What are the best NCAA DII schools in Kentucky?

There are currently just two NCAA DII schools in Kentucky, they include Kentucky State University and Kentucky Wesleyan College.

What are the best NCAA DIII schools in Kentucky?

There are currently just five NCAA DIII schools in Kentucky, they include Asbury University, Berea College, Centre College, Spalding University, and Transylvania University.

What are the best NCCAA schools in Kentucky?

There are currently just three (3) NCCAA schools in Kentucky, they include Boyce College, Campbellsville University, and Simmons College.

Conclusion

These schools listed here are the best and most recommended NAIA schools in Kentucky, consider any of them if you wish to join a college school in the state.

Reference:

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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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