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Student-Centered and Positioned to Grow

April 15, 2014

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Jim Carr, President and CEO of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA), presented the State of the Association address Sunday, April 13 at the 73rd Annual NAIA Convention in Kansas City, Mo. Carr’s presentation was delivered to more than 400 athletic administrators and institutional presidents.

After an introduction by Les Purce, president of Evergreen State College (Wash.) and chair of the NAIA Council of Presidents (COP), Carr highlighted the many accomplishments the NAIA has achieved in the past year, and focused heavily on the Association’s vision for the future. That vision was embodied in the convention’s theme, “Pathways for Growth.”

Carr began his speech referencing an email he received from a Baker (Kan.) student-athlete parent thanking him for his daughter’s great NAIA experience.

“While I appreciated receiving this email, this proud father was thanking the wrong person,” Carr said.“His daughter had a life-changing experience because of Ben Lister, women's basketball coach and Theresa Yetmar, an incredible young AD; Pat Long, a president committed to the student-athlete experience; and the faculty and staff at Baker. But the praise also goes to all of you because together we have created the right approach to intercollegiate athletics.”

Following this, Carr turned his attention to the success of the inaugural NAIA Champions of Character Foundation Luncheon, showing a video of the three 2013 luncheon co-chairs: Mark Donovan, president of the Kansas City Chiefs; Dayton Moore, General Manager of the Kansas City Royals; and Robb Heineman, CEO of Sporting Kansas City. Carr also announced that the keynote speaker for the 2014 luncheon will be five-time PGAmajor champion, Tom Watson.

Carr’s address then moved to a vision for the future of the NAIA, which centers on growth in three areas: member schools, student-athletes and revenue.

“‘Pathways for Growth’ is not just a convention theme but critical for the NAIA and all of our members and your student-athletes. Today, we're going to start a path together. A path to become an even greater student-centered association. Not one that talks about it, but one where the association works with you to find more quality young people and help you enhance their experiences while they are at your school,” Carr said.

“The COP has approved a growth strategy that is built around the following guiding principles: 1) Adopt an analytic mindset to understand student and member needs. 2) Focus on sales and marketing to better communicate the value of the NAIA.3) Extend technology resources to innovate and grow.4) Reinvest dollars into the organization to better serve members and students.5) And do all of these things with a commitment to student-centrism: we must create a unique and compelling experience for students based on their preferences,” Carr said.

To support these principles and the growth initiatives, Carr said that a newly-created NAIA Analytics Center is learning more about student-athletes and their decision-making process. He also noted that the NAIA is establishing student advisory boards and focus groups to help the association learn more about how to improve the experiences of NAIA student-athletes.

Carr concluded his address by introducing the Pathways concept.

“At the core of the concept is a belief. We believe strongly there needs to be a clearer path for students to find their way to NAIA athletics, to the NAIA college experience, to you. And that path needs to be consistent with the way students interact with the process, and as importantly, in sync with NAIA coaches,” Carr said.

“There needs to be a progression for students: through the earliest stages of awareness about opportunities to play college sports; to learn how college recruiting, financial aid, and admissions work; to having the opportunity to let colleges and coaches know you’re out there; and finally, to get honest feedback and connect with coaches in a meaningful way,” Carr said.