NCAA vs NAIA Debate

As an aspiring collegiate athlete, you look for a scholarship. Knowing how to get recruited and stand out are the first steps to that goal, but a big step is deciding which athletic association best fits who you are not only as an athlete but a student. Based off a recent twitter poll, 69 votes, 87 percent said they would take a collegiate athletic offer from NCAA and 13 percent said they would take a collegiate athletic offer from NAIA. So, that bring me to the question is on association really better than the other?

There are two well-known athletic associations: National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA), and the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA). The NCAA has an estimate of over 1200 institution members. This association has three divisions Division I, Division II, and Division III which consists of 23 different sport departments. Division I and II are the only Divisions of the three that can provide student athletic scholarships. Over 120,000 student-athletes can get a full or partial scholarship. Division III can only get academic scholarships. From the past year, the NCAA handed out a little under $1 billion in aiding athletes with school.

Myles Washington, an athlete at Kent State University, had many offers before graduating from high school. “I chose Kent State because it felt like family here. Plus, I was already coming from a big school so adapting to a big school wouldn’t have been hard for me,” said Washington.

Caleb Daniels, an athlete that just signed his letter of intent with Tulane University men basketball team. “I chose Tulane because I felt I would fit their program best. Tulane lost a couple of guards from either transferring somewhere else or graduating out. As a freshman, I felt that I would fall easily on their roster and add to their program sooner rather than later,” said Daniels.

On the other side of things, the NAIA has an estimate of 260 schools that consists of 13 sports. With that being said, the NAIA is indeed a smaller association than the NCAA with 65,000 students. Since it is smaller, there are only two divisions, Division I and Division II. The Division I is a little like the Division II of the NCAA.  Some key reasons why student-athletes look toward NAIA is because of the competition, flexibility, academic success, size and the way they recruit prospective athletes.

Earl Coats, an athlete at Loyola University, did get NCAA offers but he is glad he chose Loyola. “I liked the track program here and small schools are a good fit for me. If I were to go to a big school I know I would easily lose focus and not have as an easy transition into college,” said Coats.

De’shia Dillion, an athlete with NCAA interest but ended up signing a letter of intent to an NAIA school. “NCAA I knew for sure had strict rules. And I’ve been to small school most of my life so when it came to my decision I chose a school where I felt I knew for sure I was going to play, I knew for sure I was going to keep my grades up, and a place where I knew my coaches would know me and look out for me,” said Dillion.

The eligibility requirement the NCAA is a bit more rigorous. In order to be eligible, you would have to have a 2.3 GPA and for ACT and SAT scores it should match the students high school core-course GPA. Whereas for NAIA, they ask for a 2.0 GPA and at least an 18 on ACT or 860 on SAT for incoming freshmen. But if you’re a student transferring from a two-year school has no residency requirement. If, however, you have participated at four-year college prior to attending a two-year school, you must have a written release from the athletic department of the four-year institution. For athletes pursuing a college scholarship, being familiar with these requirements is very important.

Breyah Richardson, an athlete at Loyola University, wasn’t to focused on being seen on a big stage. “I liked the NAIA, I still travel with playing basketball but I feel because we travel less that I don’t miss the school work. I came to be a student athlete not just an athlete.”

When it comes to recruiting, there are numerous ways a coach tries to get in contact with a prospective athlete. Coaches view Hudl, school highlights each year, until you become a sophomore in high school. Once they become sophomore then they can do unofficial visits to schools that have shown interest in them.

Jai Eugene, former Louisiana State University athlete and coach, mainly used Hudl to catch highlights and traveled to a few games in order to recruit. “We live in a time now where technology can be very useful. Coaches won’t be able every game if they like a certain player so sending in highlights was a way to make sure that not only the coach is watching you but how that athlete can better themselves,” said Eugene.

If an aspiring collegiate athlete don’t have access to Hudl then it is important for them to keep up with the NAIA Showcase or the Student-Athletes Showcase and see where they can go to make sure coaches know their names. The NAIA Showcase is a one-day training camp where athletes can show their skill in front of the coaches. It is a quick way to put a face to the name and learn about the individual institution eligibility rules and scholarship opportunities. The NAIA is the only college athletics association that offers official individual showcases for high school and junior-college student-athletes. The Student-Athletes Showcase is a whole management process where athletes check weight, height, and take other fitness assessments to see where you fit in. The main point of this program is to help choosing where you play in college an easier decision. It also gives parents a proven “battle plan” for managing a comprehensive project that few have the time & experience to supervise.

Jessica Porter, a collegiate athlete, transferred to Tougaloo College from a junior-college. “The reason I transferred was because I didn’t feel happy at the school I went to before. So, I checked around for showcases and events where I can meet other coaches a build a relationship with them. Once I submitted my transcript I was headed to a more promising collegiate career,” said Porter.

Dashawn Wright, an athlete that just signed his letter of intent with Delgado, still has hopes of going to either an NAIA or an NCAA school. “I think people favor NCAA because of schools like UCLA, Duke, Villanova and others because they are televised on ESPN and local stations, which means it draws the media attention faster. That’s the only way I would say NCAA is better. Personally, if I feel that I can add to a school’s program as well as receive help in becoming a better scholar I would know which association to join,” said Wright.

Based on College Athletic Scholarship Limits 2016-17, there has been a bit of increase in some sports and a decrease in others due to the fact that some collegiate athletes want to be able to have secured playing time and not just taking the financial aid.

After knowing the difference between both associations and hearing from coaches as well as athletes from various different sports. It’s safe to say that both associations are great ones to be a part of. It really depends on the type of athlete you are, what do you want for yourself and what you strive to become.

If you are an aspiring collegiate athlete and want to play for the either NCAA or NAIA, visit or and register to get started and make sure that you’re on the right track. If you have already registered but want to know more about the showcases, visit or for the dates.

Best of luck with your athletic journeys.


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