Have you ever heard of the NAIA? The National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics is a governing body of small athletics programs. The NAIA is not new, they have been around since 1937 and currently provide over 60,000 student athletes the opportunity to compete in 27 different sports. While many NAIA schools have had lacrosse it is just now becoming a “recognized sport” in the NAIA.
In the past, NAIA lacrosse programs have competed against MCLA teams and even been able to participate in MCLA championship tournaments. This season, lacrosse’s first as a recognized sport, has “invitational” status. This means that at least 25 NAIA programs have committed to attending a national championship event.
The NAIA’s Lynn Meredith explains, “Our classifications are based on the amount of members who commit to attending a sports national championship if they qualify. To have a championship administrated by the NAIA, 40 members have to commit even though more than that number may participate in that sport. In order to work new sports opportunities into the NAIA, we have an ‘Invitational’ status that requires 25 member to commit to attending a national championship. This give legitimacy to the sport as it gains traction with other NAIA members. The NAIA participates in these championships with our coaches and sports associations, but does not fully administrate them until the 40 number is reached.”
One interesting side note on this “invitational” season is that athletes may have the opportunity to play for two national championships this year. They can compete in the MCLA tournaments as well as the NAIA Invitational Championship tournament. Currently 29 women’s programs and 27 men’s programs have indicated they will play for the invitational championship.
While scholarship limitations have not been established by the NAIA yet, Many NAIA athletes receive scholarships. More information about Scholarships can be found on the NAIA.org website.