|Headquarters||1200 Grand Blvd
Kansas City, Missouri 64106
|United States, Canada, Bahamas, and US Virgin Islands|
|NAIA Council of Presidents|
The National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) is an athletic association that organizes college and university-level athletic programs, primarily across the United States but also outside the US. The NAIA began accepting members from Canada in 1972, which made it the only international intercollegiate athletic association in North America until 2009. Today there are three Canadian members. As of July 1, 2016, the NAIA reports having 250 member institutions.
The NAIA, whose headquarters is in Kansas City, Missouri, sponsors 25 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 National Football Championship.
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.
In 1948, the NAIB became the first national organization to open their intercollegiate postseason to black student-athletes. That same year, Indiana State coach John Wooden, later to become a coaching legend at UCLA, brought the first African-American student-athlete to play at the national tournament.
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.
Membership – The NAIA was the first association to admit colleges and universities from outside the United States. The NAIA began admitting Canadian members in 1999.
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 25 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.
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.
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