Arkansas Baptist approved for NAIA membership

NAIA Communications

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – The National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) announced on Tuesday that the Council of Presidents has approved the applications of three institutions for membership, which will be effective July 1, 2021. Formal approval was voted upon by the NAIA Council of Presidents (COP) on May 27 at the NAIA Convention COP Business Meeting. All three schools received unanimous recommendations from the NAIA Membership Committee.

New members include: Arkansas Baptist College, Johnson University and Ohio Valley University. Of the three, Ohio Valley, moving from NCAA Division II, is a returning member to the NAIA. Nine schools over the course of the last five years moved from the NCAA to the NAIA. As a former member, Ohio Valley (W.Va.) has been approved for immediate reinstatement for NAIA postseason competition. Immediate reinstatement is a benefit afforded to former members that return to the NAIA.

“We are happy to welcome Arkansas Baptist, Johnson and Ohio Valley to the NAIA,” said Jim Carr, NAIA President and CEO. “We are proud to continue to see schools that are eager to join the NAIA that fit so well with our five core character values.”

The NAIA has shown to be a better fit for several NCAA DII and DIII schools. In some cases, NAIA members are spending as much as 40% less than their counterparts in the NCAA, while still operating high-caliber athletics programs.

Arkansas Baptist from Little Rock, Ark., will transition from the National Junior College Athletics Association (NJCAA) to the NAIA as it also transitions from a two-year school to a four-year degree-granting institution.

Johnson University from Knoxville, Tenn., will enter the NAIA coming from the National Christian Collegiate Athletics Association.

The NAIA has now added 11 new members since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, including four institutions that are former members that have returned from the NCAA.

The NAIA reviews member applications based on two cycles. Schools can apply by July 1 to receive a decision in October, or they can apply by October 1 to receive a decision at the spring convention. Schools must meet membership criteria that include financial stability, sports sponsorship, accreditation, and a commitment to character-driven athletics. Enrollment numbers, retention rates, and overall financial commitment to athletics are also taken into consideration.

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