There is a lot of advice out there about recruiting for NCAA schools, but the same does not apply for the lesser-known NAIA. The NAIA is a college athletic organization for smaller colleges. It has its own rules and regulations for the recruiting process. Some athletes don’t even know what NAIA is until they’re talking to a coach and start researching the team, so we’ve put together 5 simple tips for those considering the NAIA.
- Register for the NAIA Eligibility Center
Similar to the NCAA recruiting process, athletes looking to play at an NAIA college must register for the NAIA Eligibility Center. Registering costs $80 and you must submit SAT scores and meet minimum GPA requirements.
- Take advantage of lenient communication rules
Unlike the NCAA recruiting process, there are no strict regulations against coaches communicating with players who are interested in playing in the NAIA. Coaches are allowed to interact with recruits at any time and by any means, so as a recruit, take advantage of that by reaching out to coaches and staying in touch with them throughout the whole process.
- Explore scholarship opportunities
A common misconception about the NAIA is that, like DIII schools, they do not offer athletic scholarships. This is not true. The NAIA has recently given out $600 million in scholarships for approximately 65,000 student athletes, according to the NAIA President Jim Carr. They also award equivalency scholarships, rather than headcount, so the scholarship amount can vary a lot. To capitalize on this, it is important to research which programs certain NAIA schools invest in the most and to continue putting your best foot forward both athletically and academically.
Related: NAIA Scholarships by Sport
- Research NAIA Programs
It is important to research the specific programs at schools you’re interested in. Research how the team has done for your specific sport in recent years or news about coaching hires and athletic facilities. There may not be much information online about the programs at NAIA schools, so if you have connections or know someone playing at the school you’re interested in, ask them for their insight and experience.
- Research NAIA Schools
While it is important to research the athletic programs at a NAIA college, it is also important to research the school itself. A core value of the NAIA is to provide a nurturing learning environment with smaller class sizes and enrollment numbers. Most NAIA schools have specialized major programs and intriguing class selections, which should be considered when talking to schools and coaches.