NAIA Football Schools: Flexibility in the Recruiting Process and in the College Experience
For many student-athletes, the charm of NAIA schools comes from its smaller class sizes and overall flexibility between athletics, academics and a social life. Furthermore, NAIA football colleges are allowed to manage their own recruiting process—no timelines or calendars to memorize. Coaches at NAIA football schools can recruit at any time, and the window of opportunity is often open longer than at the other division levels.
Are there divisions in the NAIA?
For football, all NAIA teams play in the same division. Two NAIA football divisions existed until 1997, at which point they were consolidated into one. NAIA football schools compete for the Football National Championship, which is decided by a post-season playoff system with the top NAIA football teams battling to make it to the championship game.
How many scholarships does NAIA football have?
NAIA football programs can offer up to 24 scholarships per team. The coaches can divide the scholarships as partial scholarships in order to get more high-quality players on the team. Athletes can receive full-ride scholarships, but they are somewhat rare, reserved for the players who are projected to make the most impact on the team and for athletes who are in unique positions.
How many NAIA football teams are there?
There are 96 NAIA football schools across the country. NAIA football conferences include: Frontier Conference, Great Plains Athletic, Heart of America Athletic, Kansas Collegiate Athletic, Mid-South, Mid-States Football Association, North Start Athletic Association and Sooner Athletic conferences.
NAIA football rankings
The NAIA creates its rankings each year based on votes cast by head football coaches in each conference. The votes are translated into points, and the more points a team has, the higher up in the rankings they are. Currently, the top 10 teams in the NAIA football rankings are:
- Saint Francis
- Lindsey Wilson
- Southern Oregon
- Saint Xavier
Other websites will also create their own NAIA football rankings, but the top schools typically align from list to list. To start exploring the wealth of NAIA colleges across the country, use the following list of NAIA football teams. Search by state, conference or school name.