The National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) is a college athletics association for small colleges and universities in North America. For the 2018–2019 season, it has 251 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 26 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.
|National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics|
|Motto||Character-driven intercollegiate athletics|
|Headquarters||1200 Grand Blvd|
Kansas City, Missouri 64106
|United States, Canada, Bahamas, and US Virgin Islands|
|NAIA Council of Presidents|
In 1937, Dr. James Naismith and local leaders staged the first National College Basketball Tournament at Municipal Auditorium in Kansas City—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 Wooden had withdrawn from the 1947 tournament because the NAIB would not allow Walker to play.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.
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.
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.
The NAIA sponsors 14 sports in which it conducts 26 annual championships (13 for men, 12 for women). 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, MO. 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 school year, the NAIA will return 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.
Awards and honors
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 Cumberland Phoenix football team represents Cumberland University in National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA), primarily competing in the Mid-South Conference. The Phoenix formerly competed in the TranSouth Athletic Conference and Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Association.Dillard Bleu Devils and Lady Bleu Devils
The Dillard Bleu Devils (men's teams) and Lady Bleu Devils (women's teams) represent Dillard University in intercollegiate athletics. The University is a Division I member of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) and the Gulf Coast Athletic Conference.Friends Falcons
The Friends Falcons are the athletic teams that represent Friends University in Wichita, Kansas. They participate in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA), primarily competing in the Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference (KCAC).List of NAIA conferences
The following is a list of National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics conferences as of the 2018–19 school year. Unless otherwise noted, changes in conference membership occur on July 1 of the given year.List of NAIA institutions
The National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics has 251 member colleges and universities for athletic competition.List of NAIA regions
NAIA regions no longer exist. The following is a list of former National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics regions.Loyola Wolf Pack
The Loyola Wolf Pack are composed of 18 teams representing Loyola University New Orleans in intercollegiate athletics, including men and women's basketball, cross country, golf, swimming, tennis, and indoor and outdoor track and field. Men's sports include baseball, while women's sports include volleyball, and two coed sports were recently added, in competitive cheer and dance. The Wolf Pack compete in the NAIA and are members of the Southern States Athletic Conference.
The intercollegiate athletics program was discontinued in 1972, but was reinstated in 1991.McPherson Bulldogs
The McPherson Bulldogs are the athletic teams that represent McPherson College in McPherson, Kansas. They are part of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA), primarily competing in the Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference (KCAC).MidAmerica Nazarene Pioneers
The MidAmerica Nazarene Pioneers are the athletic teams of MidAmerica Nazarene University. They participate in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA), primarily competing in the Heart of America Athletic Conference (HAAC).Montana Tech Orediggers football
The Montana Tech Orediggers program represents Montana Tech of the University of Montana in college football as members of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics. The Orediggers are members of the Frontier Conference.NAIA Coaches' Poll
The NAIA Coaches' Poll typically refers to a weekly ranking of the top 25 National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) college football and college basketball teams, though other NAIA polls exist as well. The poll is voted upon by a panel of head coaches representing each of the conferences and independents.NAIA independent schools
NAIA independent schools are 4-year institutional members of the NAIA that do not have formal conference affiliations. NAIA schools that are not members of an athletic conference are members of the Association of Independent Institutions (AII), which provides member services to the institution and allows members to compete in postseason competition.NAIA lacrosse
There are numerous men's and women's college lacrosse teams at schools that are members of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA), which is an alternate varsity athletic organization to the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA).
The Wolverine-Hoosier Athletic Conference (WHAC) was the first NAIA lacrosse conference to offer a championship for both men and women.During the summer of 2015, the NAIA approved men's and women's lacrosse to move from emerging sport status to national invitational. This move allows NAIA varsity teams to compete within the NAIA rather than an outside organization. The first NAIA National Invitational Tournament (NIT) was held in May 2016 in Greenville, SC. Lacrosse is required to remain an invitational sport for a minimum of two years before applying for full championship status. As of fall 2017 both men's and women's lacrosse remained invitational status. Both men's and women's championships will be held in Grand Rapids, MI on the Aquinas College campus.Ottawa Braves
The Ottawa Braves are the athletic teams that represent Ottawa University in Ottawa, Kansas. They are part of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA), competing in the Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference (KCAC).Reinhardt Eagles
The Reinhardt Eagles are the athletic teams for Reinhardt University in Waleska, Georgia. The university is a member of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA), primarily competing in Appalachian Athletic Conference.Saint Mary Spires
The Saint Mary Spires are the athletic teams that represent the University of Saint Mary in Leavenworth, Kansas. The school is a part of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA), competing in the Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference (KCAC).Savannah College of Art and Design Bees
SCAD Savannah Bees redirects here.
The Savannah College of Art and Design Bees refers to the two sets of athletic teams that compete for the Savannah College of Art and Design at its two locations in Savannah and Atlanta, Georgia. The SCAD Savannah school is a member of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA), primarily competing in The Sun Conference. The SCAD Atlanta school also competes in the NAIA, but it competes in the Appalachian Athletic Conference. As a college of Art and Design, the school offers a sports lineup unlike most colleges. Its Savannah location is one of the few colleges in the United States to offer a competitive equestrian program, and is unlikely to ever compete in some of the typical college sports, such as basketball or football.Southern–New Orleans Knights and Lady Knights
The Southern–New Orleans Knights (men's teams) and Lady Knights (women's teams) represent Southern University at New Orleans in intercollegiate athletics. The University is a Division I member of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) and the Gulf Coast Athletic Conference.The university has garnered over 150 NAIA All-American honors in its athletic programs.Thomas Night Hawks
The Thomas Night Hawks are the athletic teams for Thomas University in Thomasville, Georgia. The university is a member of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA), primarily competing in The Sun Conference, formerly known as the Florida Sun Conference (FSC).Thomas joined The Sun Conference in the 2012–13 season. In the 2013–14 season, basketball returned to Thomas after a 13-year hiatus. In the inaugural game, the Nighthawks men were victorious over visiting Florida National University by a score of 82–71. In 2014, the school added a competitive dance team.
National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics