All You Need to Know About the NAIA

by Apr 23, 20210 comments

What is the NAIA

Athletic associations are the organizers of all competitive college sports in the USA. In the past, we have looked at the NCAA, the largest of the associations, but what about the others? For today’s blog, we tell you all you need to know about the NAIA (National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics) – what it is, its history, and its statistics.

The NAIA is an Association with a history of creating the best opportunities for student-athletes. From the origins of this association, certain things stand out above the rest. The NAIA is well known for their role of creating equal opportunities for all is the stand out attribute, supported by pillars of sportsmanship, ethical behaviour, leadership, and commitment to scholarship.

Aspire Atlantic Alumnus Calvin Coetzee is an NAIA National Individual Swimming Champion

Why did they start?

In Kansas City, the heart of Missouri, a group of business leaders decided they wanted to bring the hype and excitement of college sport to the city. They also focused on bringing structure and an established framework to collegiate sport. This gave the participating institutions a chance to prove each sport’s true champion. They have made movements from LA to Tulsa over the years as they continued to work towards the main goal of helping and supporting their membership schools.

When did they start?

The NAIA was first known as the NAIB (National Association of Intercollegiate Basketball). It was founded – with help from the inventor of basketball, James Naismith – in 1937. The same year, the group held their first basketball tournament, which was also the first intercollegiate basketball national championship in the USA. This tournament is the longest continuous national collegiate tournament in any sport in America.

Since then, the NAIA has grown in stature and size. From eight teams in the original championship, the NAIA now boasts more than 360 membership schools and over a dozen sport programmes. The NAIA has cemented the national championships across all their sports, creating some of the strongest and most well-respected titles in college competition. They are also committed to growth of sports across all platforms and levels. For example, they have partnered with the NFL to start a women’s flag football league.


The Goal Today

A lot has changed since the NAIA was founded. However, the focus of helping student-athletes while giving them the best possible education and opportunities has remained at the forefront. This guides everything the NAIA does, and has helped to keep the organization strong and consistent over the years

The NAIA keeps its focus on five core values for all stakeholders:

  • Respect
  • Integrity
  • Servant leadership
  • Responsibility
  • Sportsmanship

Throughout its brief history, the NAIA has proved why it is a huge asset to collegiate sport and all student-athletes. Whether it is an important stepping stone to becoming the next big star, or getting a world class education, the heart of giving everyone the best and equal opportunity will remain The NAIA’s purpose.

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