Why Choose the NAIA?

The NAIA is the ONLY athletic association that serves the interests of small colleges by driving student-athlete enrollment and financial sustainability. Read to learn more about the NAIA Advantage.

Return on Athletics ROA

Maximizing Your Return on Athletics®

Return on Athletics (ROA) supports the key priorities of NAIA member institutions – enrollment, student success, and financial viability – by leveraging simple and consistent calculations to maximize the business performance of their athletic departments. Learn more about ROA.

EdTalk: Unlocking the Value of Intercollegiate Athletics

Watch to learn how you can:

Drive Enrollment • Improve Student Success • Strengthen Financial Outlook
Maximize Your ROA - Return on Athletics®
Sep 19, 2022

ROA® Insights officially launched and participating institutions are now able to reap the benefits of student-level data analysis as it pertains to institutional enrollment, retention, and net return. ROA Insights is the first membership tool offered through the NAIA’s ROA initiative. This free, online platform shows how specific efforts and adjustments to an athletics program can affect the overall health of an institution at an operational level. Features include: • Year-over-year comparisons to assess athletics’ effectiveness in driving institutional goals • Peer institution comparisons to identify potential options for growth and effectiveness • Net return calculator that provides estimated return based on a number of adjustable factors www.Naia.org/ROA #HigherEd #ExperienceNAIA #NAIAROA

Return on Athletics® - (ROA) Enrollment Management
Sep 12, 2022

Return on Athletics® – or ROA – is the NAIA’s approach to identifying and measuring how athletics can drive enrollment, retention, and the financial health of our member institutions. ROA analyzes this data, focusing on factors that contribute to each school’s net return on student-athlete enrollment and retention. ROA provides each school with analytics that shows year-over-year trends, comparison data from peer institutions, and an adjustable net return calculator based on the number of students, discount rate, retention, and expenses. All these tools work together to show how specific efforts and adjustments to athletics can drive institutional success. #HigherEd #ExperienceNAIA #NAIAROA

Experience Today's NAIA
Jul 11, 2022

Experience Today’s NAIA. The NAIA gives colleges the opportunity to offer our student-athletes a world-class experience and watch our bottom line at the same time. High-quality athletic programs are a benefit to our whole institution. NAIA members have more student-athletes participating in sports on average enrollment 1,700 students that receive more financial aid, Scholarships: $600 million, At a more reasonable cost Colleges are leaving the NCAA. and coming back to the NAIA and are seeing a significant bump in athletic participation and our bottom-line has benefited as well. The NAIA is in a growth mode. We have just welcomed 15 new members If you are a school looking to improve your enrollment, retention and financial future, now is the time to join the NAIA. The NAIA is here now and will be here well into the future. We are growing. We are high-quality athletics. We are a great place to be. https://www.naia.org/why-naia/index @NAIA #ExperienceNAIA #HigherEd

NAIA - The Right Choice for You!
Sep 26, 2018

NAIA: The Right Choice for You When it comes to collegiate athletics associations, how do you know which is the best fit for your institution? It comes down to priorities. If your school wants to be nationally competitive at a reasonable price, while driving enrollment and supporting the school’s bottom line, the NAIA is the best association for you. How do NAIA schools do it? NAIA schools measure success not just by game scores, but by their financial bottom lines, too. Their NCAA counterparts spend an average of 60 percent more on athletics. For the schools at the top of the Directors Cup rankings, the cost goes up to twice as much as an NAIA school. Top 100 Directors Cup – DII and DIII schools spend 2x as much as NAIA schools Regardless of their size, all schools are in competition for students. Student-athlete participation at NAIA schools has increased an average of 40 percent in the last five years. That’s good for the student-athletes and provides vital support and financial stability to our member institutions. Thomas More Testimonial “Moving from DIII to NAIA has given our whole athletics department a boost – financially, in recruitment and it’s been a definite step up in competition for all of our student-athletes.” – (Hoping to have a visual here or Terry Connor – AD or an aerial of their college athletics fields/stadium). VO: We know the NAIA isn’t the right place for every school. But for those schools wanting to offer a quality, competitive, athletics without the high price tag, the NAIA is the right fit. Take a closer look. You won’t be disappointed. #NAIA #ExperienceNAIA #HigherEd

Member Facts and Figures

Member Facts and Figures

  • Average full-time enrollment: 1,400
  • Private institutions: 82%
  • Faith-based institutions: 65%
  • Average # of sports: 17
  • Average # of student-athletes: 308
  • Median athletics budget: $3.98 MM
  • Operating budget: $1.8 MM
  • Athletic aid: $2.04 MM
  • Institutions that qualify for a national
    championship: 75%

Start the Process Today!

Start the Process Today!


If your institution qualifies,
contact the membership team to schedule
a campus visit.


The NAIA Council of Presidents will
vote on your membership.

Contact the Membership Team

Learn more about what the NAIA has to offer your institution.

Nick Davidson

Nick Davidson

Vice President of Membership Recruitment and Retention

NOTE: If you are a student or parent, please contact the
NAIA Eligibility Center.