Going to College Archive

Are There Golf Opportunities in the NAIA?

Over 165 NAIA institutions offer college golf programs.

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!

Ted Gleason
Road to College Golf

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