Montreat College
 NAIA History

60,000 student-athletes

13 sports and 23 national championships

Close to 300 colleges and universities

$450 million in athletic scholarships 


In the NAIA, a dedication to leadership development is balanced with sports accomplishment. A trailblazer in providing equal opportunity for all student-athletes. An expectation of ethical behavior, fairness in competition, access to athletic scholarship, sportsmanship and leadership development. At the core of all of this — character.


The seed of the NAIA began in 1937 with the tip-off of a men's basketball tournament that has become the longest running basketball tournament in the country, celebrating 75 years in 2012. Out of the tournament grew the NAIA, an association of close to 300 member schools and more than 60,000 student-athletes.


Since 1937, the NAIA has administered programs and championships in proper balance with the overall educational experience. In 2000, the NAIA reaffirmed its purpose to enhance the character-building aspects of sport. Through Champions of Character, the NAIA seeks to create an environment in which every student-athlete, coach, official and spectator is committed to the true spirit of competition through five core values: integrity, respect, responsibility, sportsmanship and servant leadership.


Most recently, the association opened the doors to the NAIA Eligibility Center, where prospective student-athletes are evaluated for academic and athletic eligibility. It delivers on our larger promise of integrity by leveling the playing field, guiding student-athlete success, and ensuring fair competition. Providing student-athletes a chance to connect with NAIA schools and coaches helps them make the best decision to prepare them for success in both college and athletics.


NAIA History

1937 | Dr. James Naismith and local leaders form National College Basketball. Tournament staged at Municipal Auditorium in Kansas City, Mo.

1938 | Basketball tournament expands to 32 teams

1940 | National Association of Intercollegiate Basketball (NAIB) formed; first convention held

1948 | John Wooden's Indiana State team brings first African-American student-athlete to the NAIB tournament

1952 | NAIB adopts new moniker - National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) - and introduces men's championships in golf, tennis and outdoor track and field

1953 | NAIA becomes first collegiate association to invite historically black institutions into membership

1957 | Tennessee State becomes the first historically black institution to win a collegiate basketball national championship

1980 | NAIA becomes first collegiate athletics association to sponsor both men's and women's championships by adding women's basketball, cross country, gymnastics, indoor track and field, outdoor track and field, softball, swimming and diving, tennis and volleyball championships

1986 | NAIA Council of Presidents moves from advisory to governance role

1988 | Strict academic eligibility standards for all participating student-athletes adopted

2000 | NAIA introduces Champions of Character initiative along with its new brand emphasizing character development among NAIA student-athletes

2001 | NAIA headquarters returns to metro Kansas City in partnership with the city of Olathe, Kan.

2007 | NAIA opens new headquarters in downtown Kansas City, Mo.

2010 | NAIA opens the NAIA Eligibility Center.

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