We are all familiar with Division I universities, and most are aware of the opportunities that exist in DII and DIII
athletics. Additionally, and not to be overlooked, is the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA). The NAIA offers opportunities for junior golfers to play college golf and further
their experience as college student-athletes.
The NAIA is a separate governing body from the NCAA (DI, DII, and DIII) and is
comprised of smaller athletic programs committed to character-driven intercollegiate athletics. The NAIA was established
in 1937, and its mission, with respect to athletics, is to utilize sports to build character. To this end, the NAIA created the Champions of Character philosophy, which consists of the
following core values: Integrity, Respect, Responsibility, Sportsmanship, and Servant Leadership. The NAIA currently has approximately 176 menís programs and 166 womenís programs
that offer collegiate golf. These are all four-year schools
that host their championship season each spring. NAIA schools are typically smaller in enrollment size, with the vast majority
between 500 to 3,500 students. The level of competition will certainly range from the most competitive programs to the
least competitive, which provides a myriad of potential opportunities.
Many of the Going To College articles on Junior Golf Scoreboard articulate a consistent theme, emphasizing the
importance of keeping an open mind in the college process and understanding all of the college options available. From
my experience as a college player and coach, the most fun aspect of college golf is the opportunity to play on the
five-person travel squad. The truest means to improve is to participate in competition. To this end, the NAIA, for some, may offer a potential ďbest fitĒ to pursue their golf and academic
ambitions and is worth further exploration.
There are a few additional points of note regarding NAIA colleges. First, NAIA colleges are allowed to award athletic
scholarships, specifically up to five athletic scholarships for both menís and womenís programs, respectively. Also,
NAIA coaches are allowed to host tryouts for prospective student-athletes as
long as they take place on the
institutionís campus or home facility. In addition, NAIA recruiting rules do not restrict when or how often a coach
communicates with a prospective student-athlete via phone, email, text, or in person, and there are no recruiting
calendars, dead periods, or contact restrictions. Finally, the NAIA also has its own Eligibility Center that certifies
all prospective NAIA student-athletes
prior to competing at each NAIA college/university.
Certainly, many of you aim to play at the highest level of college golf available based on your golf and academic
abilities. Most important is identifying what best fits your academics, golf ability, and development as a person.
Understanding all of the possibilities will allow you to best navigate your college process. I encourage you to explore
all opportunities college golf has to offer.
Happy Holidays and keep swinging!
Road to College Golf