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Inside the Bridge

April 12, 2014
KANSAS CITY, Mo. - Student-athlete participation in the NAIA has increased 30% over five years. A National Awards Day has been created to honor the NAIA’s best. The events of the first NABC-NAIA All-Star basketball weekend went viral on social media. More than 17,000 students have completed the Live 5 Champions of Character online course.

These and many more accomplishments were celebrated by members of the NAIA National Office staff during a session moderated by Lynn Meredith, Vice President for Marketing and Communications, and titled, “Inside the Bridge,” held Saturday, April 12 at the 73rd Annual NAIA Convention in Kansas City, Mo.

The presenters during the session included Lori Thomas, Senior Vice President for Membership and Character Initiatives; Kevin Dee, Vice President for Campus and Conference Initiatives; Jamie Adams, Manager of Championship Sports; Angela Crawford, Manager of Marketing and Communications; Brian Haines, Director of Eligibility Services; Chad Waller, Director of Communications and Sports Information; Eric Olson, Director of Championships; Eric Chapman, Director of Development and Corporate Sponsorships; Kristin Gillette, Director of Champions of Character; and Matt Hanson, Director of Legislative Services.

The session was developed to provide the full membership with an update on National Office and Association activities and accomplishments and to take the place of the National Office report read during most committee and conference meetings.

Key highlights from the session include:
• Enrollment on NAIA campuses has grown 17% over the last five years
• A new team from the National Office, comprised of Dee and Chesney Allen, has been created to focus on campus and conference initiatives
• The NAIA National Awards Day will be September 15, allowing all national award winners to be recognized in a special announcement
• A new summer internship program at the National Office has been created just for NAIA student-athletes
• Eligibility Center determinations are up by 4% over last year
• A multi-year partnership with ESPN3 will bring NAIA National Championships into the homes of 85 million cable and internet subscribers at no additional cost
• The first NABC-NAIA All-Star weekend held during the Division I Men’s Basketball National Championship tournament was a success
• Revenue to the Champions of Character Foundation is up 50% from last year
• The remaining three Live 5 courses will be launched online this coming fall
• NAIA Legislative Briefs was launched to provide membership with an additional resource for rules and interpretations and now has over 250 subscribers

Thomas summed up the session well when she said, “Convention is a great way to celebrate what we all do together to positively impact the lives of more than 60,000 student-athletes every year.”