The University of Bahamas (UB) Department of Athletics is finalizing its membership application for the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) and expects to submit the document this fall to become official members of the athletics organization. The University will submit an application for Associate Membership.
“We feel that we are putting together a solid application for NAIA membership consideration and expect to become the first non-North American institution to become Associate Members of this organization,” said UB Director of Athletics Kimberley Rolle.
“At UB we have a strong athletics philosophy and are developing a strong sports operation to align ourselves with what the NAIA desires of its institutions.”
There are about 65,000 athletes in the NAIA across 250 schools and 21 conferences in the United States and Canada. The NAIA also has championships in 26 sports including basketball, both indoor and outdoor athletics, volleyball, golf, swimming and soccer.
UB Athletics is seeking to become attached to The Sun Conference which includes schools mostly in Florida with a few in South Carolina and Georgia. Sun Conference teams regularly compete for National Championships in the United States. In 2015-16, 32 Sun Conference teams were selected to compete in NAIA National Championships.
“The NAIA is a perfect fit for UB for many reasons,” Rolle added. “The NAIA promotes character-driven athletes in that it’s about building the athletes for the future and the NAIA promotes academics as a focus for the athletes. These are important principles for us here at UB. Additionally, the NAIA provides keen athletic competition as well so we feel that our athletic platform will benefit all around.”
The Sun Conference student-athletes continue to achieve remarkable national recognition. Last year, more than 80 Sun Conference student-athletes were named NAIA All-Americans, while more than 170 Sun Conference student-athletes were named NAIA All-America Scholar-Athletes.
For the NAIA, the student experience is an important component to the Association’s philosophy with 17 per cent of the student-athletes participating in the post-season and rules that promote coach-student mentoring.
“The NAIA gives schools the autonomy to build the best program for each institution and for them there is no one size fits all approach,” Rolle added. “Given that we are a developing programme, this is very important for us as we get to grow at a rate that is amenable to us.”
At NCAA division three schools, institutions are required to have between 10 and 12 sports as opposed to six for NAIA membership. In division three schools, post-season participation is around 10 per cent compared to the 17 per cent average for NAIA schools.
The final application will be submitted on or before October 1, 2018. The NAIA is then expected to evaluate the application, visit the campus in February 2019, and then vote on the application during the NAIA national convention in April 2019. If approved for membership, UB would become members July 1, 2019.