The National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) is an athletic organization that regulates smaller colleges and university-level programs across the U.S and Canada.
There are over 250 institutions that are a member of the NAIA, with its headquarters located in Kansas City.
This article will help you know more about NAIA, we shall answer some frequently asked questions and as well some of the best NAIA colleges near you.
History of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA)
The National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics started from the need to have an organization that will regulate smaller athletic colleges and universities to determine a national basketball champion in 1938.
Prior to that in 1937, the first National College Basketball Tournament was staged in Kansas City by Dr. James Naismith, George Goldman, Emil Liston, and some other local leaders, it was directed by Mr. Goldman.
The original eight-team tournament expanded to 32 teams in 1938 and a year after, on March 10, 1940, the National Association for Intercollegiate Basketball (NAIB) was formed in Kansas City, Missouri.
The NAIB was then transformed into the NAIA twelve years later in 1952, and that attracted sponsorships for other sports programs such as men’s golf, tennis, and outdoor track and field.
What are the Benefits of the NAIA?
Student-athletes seeking admission into any of the NAIA schools can get access to some of these NAIA benefits;
- NAIA Scholarships to help offset student costs.
- NAIA Student-athletes can compete and learn the ultimate benefits of teamwork and accomplishment.
- NAIA student-athletes can compete at the championship level.
- NAIA member schools mostly have tight-knit campus communities which helps the students build closer interaction, stronger relationships, and personalized attention.
What are the top NAIA Conferences?
Here is a list of some of the top member conferences that sponsor NAIA intercollegiate varsity sports, there are about 21 of them;
- American Midwest Conference (AMC)
- Appalachian Athletic Conference (AAC)
- California Pacific Conference (Cal Pac)
- Cascade Collegiate Conference (CCC)
- Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference (CCAC)
- Continental Athletic Conference (CAC)
- Crossroads League (CL)
- Frontier Conference (Frontier)
- Golden State Athletic Conference (GSAC)
- Great Plains Athletic Conference (GPAC)
Others include; the Gulf Coast Athletic Conference (GCAC), Heart of America Athletic Conference (HAAC), Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference (KCAC), Mid-South Conference (MSC), etc.
What are the NAIA Championship sports?
14 sports programs are sponsored by the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics, and it also conducts about 27 national championships yearly.
There are three recognized levels of NAIA competitions which are the emerging, invitational, and championship.
Here are some of the NAIA championships sports;
- Basketball (Men and Women)
- Bowling (Men and Women)
- Competitive Cheer
- Competitive Dance
- Cross Country (Men and Women)
- Lacrosse (Women)
- Golf (Men and Women)
- Soccer (Men and Women)
- Swimming and Diving (men and Women)
- Tennis (Men and Women)
- Indoor and Outdoor (Men and Women)
- Volleyball (Men and Women)
- Wrestling (Men and Women)
What are the NAIA divisions?
The NAIA is a smaller association than the NCAA and is split into two divisions: Division I and Division II.
Division I in the NAIA is comparable to Division II in the NCAA, and each division has different requirements for schools and athletes.
Over 90% of NAIA schools offer scholarships to their student-athletes who receive an average of $7,000 of financial aid.
What is the difference between NAIA and NCAA?
NAIA schools are typically smaller and have less money to spend on athletics than NCAA schools and as such, NAIA schools tend to be less competitive athletically.
The NCAA, or National Collegiate Athletic Association, is a larger association that represents bigger schools and colleges, it was formed earlier than the NAIA in 1906.
The NCAA schools are subdivided into; divisions I, II, and III.
NCAA Division I
The NCAA Division I schools are mainly the largest colleges and they compete in a minimum of 14 men’s and women’s sports offering top-notch athletic facilities that attract top athletes in the country.
NCAA Division II
The NCAA Division II is smaller than that Division I, this lets student-athletes finance their education through both athletic and educational scholarships.
NCAA Division III
The NCAA Division III schools are much smaller and do not offer athletic scholarships while NAIA schools may offer full scholarships to athletes, most students receive partial scholarships.
- 260 Complete list of the Best NAIA Schools By States For Students
- The Best NAIA Schools in Tennessee For Athletes
- The Best NAIA Schools in Georgia for Student-Athletes
- The Best NAIA Schools in Alabama for Athletics
- The Best NAIA Schools in Ohio for Aspiring Athletes
- The Best NAIA Schools In Texas That You Can Get Into
- The 11 Best NAIA Schools in Kentucky for Aspiring Athletes
The National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics is a great way to get involved in college athletics.
The benefits of joining the NAIA schools are many, including the ability to compete at the collegiate level and the potential to earn scholarships.
If you’re thinking about joining any NAIA school, be sure to check out the recommended list above and also visit the NAIA official page for more details.
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