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Cal South E-News // January 2010 COLLEGE PLANNING

January 29, 2010

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Understanding the NAIA

A common question we are asked at NCSA is "What is the NAIA?"

As a high school student-athlete, you probably hear a lot about the NCAA, but NAIA discussions are far less common. The NAIA (National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics) has almost 300 member institutions throughout the country and is its own governing body when it comes to collegiate athletics. Despite being completely separate from the NCAA, the two organizations have a lot in common. NAIA schools often fly under the radar because many high school athletes do not understand this level of play. There are 218 NAIA schools offering men's soccer and 222 NAIA schools that currently offer women's soccer; each being an additional opportunity to play soccer at the collegiate level.

The NAIA is dedicated to displaying character and respect in both athletics and academics. The NAIA Champions of Character Program is an educational outreach initiative that was designed to instill an understanding of character values in athletics and provide practical tools for student-athletes, coaches and parents to use in order to demonstrate exemplary character traits.

NAIA institutions tend to have small student bodies. They can easily be compared to Division III schools when it comes to the overall college environment. Smaller class sizes mean more one-on-one attention from professors. NAIA schools also tend to be more of a tight-knit community because the smaller campus size enables students to know more of their peers and foster close relationships. Athletically, NAIA schools typically compete more at a Division II level and a lot of times the play is stronger than that of a Division III school.

NAIA schools offer athletic scholarships, so students can earn academic and athletic funding, just like at NCAA Division I schools. NAIA athletics offers maximum opportunities to participate in regular season contests while still offering National Championship competitions, just like the NCAA.

NAIA recruiting rules are much more relaxed than the NCAA. Coaches can contact recruits by any means whenever they want, so the recruiting process is much simpler. The NAIA is also very flexible when it comes to transferring schools and they will allow students to transfer without having to sit out a season.

High school athletes should choose a school based on the academic, athletic, geographic, social and financial fit, not based on the division level. There are strong and weak teams within each level and if recruits don't consider NAIA schools simply because they are not informed, they may miss out on a lot of opportunities. College prospects should do everything possible to fully educate themselves on all types of schools in order to maximize their opportunities to play college soccer.

For more info on the NAIA, please visit http://naia.cstv.com/

Be sure to visit the NCSA booth at Soccer Nation Expo to learn more about college recruiting, or attend one of their seminars -- titled "College Recruiting Simplified" -- during Soccer Nation Expo. To learn more about attending these seminars, please go to www.SoccerNationExpo.com.

About NCSA :
NCSA, the "Official Scouting Organization and Provider of Recruiting Education" for Cal South, is the premier source for matching high school student-athletes with colleges and universities across the country. For more information about NCSA, visitwww.ncsasports.org .