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NAIA Approves Eight New Members

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. – The National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) is pleased to announce the approval of eight institutions for association membership, seven of which are effective July 1, 2018. Formal approval was voted upon by the NAIA Council of Presidents (COP) on April 15 at the annual NAIA National Convention. This brings the total number of NAIA member institutions to 253.

New members include: Columbia International University (S.C.), Cottey College (Mo.), Florida National University, Green Mountain College (Vt.), Lincoln College (Ill.), Ottawa University (Ariz.) and The Pennsylvania State University, Schuylkill Campus and Thomas More College (Ky.). Thomas More’s membership becomes effective at the beginning of the 2019-20 academic year.

“We’re excited to welcome these eight new members into the NAIA,” said Jim Carr, NAIA president and CEO. “These institutions share the NAIA's commitment to high standards and to the principle that participation in athletics serves as an integral part of the student experience.”

Green Mountain and Thomas More are former members returning to the NAIA after a stint in NCAA Division III. The Eagles and Saints are immediately eligible for postseason competition.

With 25 sports, Thomas More boasts the largest athletics department among the newcomers. Thomas More has been approved for membership in the Mid-South Conference starting in the fall of 2019.

Columbia International enters the NAIA as a member of the Appalachian Athletic Conference and Ottawa will compete in the Golden State Athletic Conference and Sooner Athletic Conference for football only.

The other five schools will be members of the Association of Independent Institutions.

The NAIA accepts new member applications annually with an October 1 deadline for the following academic year. Schools must meet membership criteria that include financial stability, sports sponsorship, accreditation, and a commitment to character-driven athletics. Enrollment numbers, graduation percentages, retention rates, and overall athletics budgets are also taken into consideration.

Current NAIA associate members Cleary University (Mich.), Rust College (Miss.) and University of Virgin Islands were approved as active members by the COP.