Respect, integrity, responsibility, servant leadership, and sportsmanship. These are the core values that the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) instills in each of it's over 50,000 student-athletes every year. With programs such as the Champions of Character, when NAIA student-athletes graduate they are able to offer much more to society than just the ability to throw a ball.
The NAIA had its earliest beginnings in 1937 as a basketball tournament for small colleges; today has over 300 member colleges and universities and hosts 23 national championships in 13 sports. Always in the forefront since inception, the NAIA was the first organization to include black colleges and students in championships and to include women in national championships. Throughout its history, the NAIA and its members have strived to use athletics as a method to develop and enhance the character of all people involved.
The NAIA philosophy is simple: "to promote education and development of students through intercollegiate athletic participation."* At NAIA member institutions it is a strong belief that sport is a powerful tool for developing character. The benefits of NAIA participation go beyond even this. NAIA academic standards require a minimum 2.0 G.P.A. on a 4.0 scale for all student-athletes. Many colleges and universities are with close-knit communities where small class sizes are the norm. There is also flexibility to transfer without missing a season of eligibility, no eligibility clearinghouse, and fewer recruiting restrictions for coaches and student athletes. This all leads to making sure that the student-athlete is comfortable with their choice of institution.
Because the athletic arena has become a microcosm of society, the time has come to bring a more formal emphasis to character development on every level and especially in sport. Created in 2000, the NAIA "Champions of Character" initiative, through awareness, education and community involvement, will continue to develop an atmosphere of integrity in sport. Character and cooperation will grace our youth as they compete in athletics and life. The NAIA "Champions of Character" initiative will create an environment in which every NAIA student-athlete, coach, official and spectator is committed to the true spirit of competition through respect, integrity, responsibility, servant leadership, and sportsmanship.
*This information was taken, with permission, from www.naia.org. Please visit their web site for additional information about the NAIA.