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By: Brandon Liles

NCSA Baseball Is fortunate to be able to help thousands of recruits each year. I work with high school baseball recruits every day. One piece of my background that I always share is that I played college baseball at Indiana Wesleyan University, a private Christian college that competes at the NAIA level. When I ask recruits if they are familiar with the NAIA, most say no. I’d like to shed some light on the NAIA, and help you expand your college options.

NAIA Basics:

-NAIA stands for National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics.

-Founded in 1937 as a governing body of small intercollegiate athletics programs (similar to how the NCAA operates).

-Schools are generally small, but they include 60,000 student-athletes participating at nearly 300 member colleges and universities.

-The NAIA provides around 450 million dollars in financial assistance annually.

-Learn more by visiting the NAIA website or its Eligibility Center.

NAIA Baseball Program Statistics:

-189 schools offer baseball. Multiply that by the average roster size and that’s over 6,600 roster spots that need to be filled.

-Each program can offer up to 12 athletic scholarships if they are fully funded. That’s more than what NCAA Division I programs offer.

-The highest concentration of programs is in the Midwest, but there are programs on the West Coast and in the South, and a few in the Northeast. With limited roster spots in warm weather climates, this may be your shot at playing in college.

-24 colleges have an enrollment above 3,000 (12.7% of NAIA baseball programs). There are over 1,600 colleges that offer baseball as an intercollegiate sport and more than half have an enrollment less than 3,000, so it’s tough to find that “big college” atmosphere.

Out of 182 colleges that had a roster on their website:

-52 have more than 40 players. Average roster size is around 35. 32 programs have a JV team. This is a great way to earn playing time as a freshman.

-38 players from the NAIA were drafted in the 2013 MLB First-Year Player Draft. The NAIA is known by professional scouts. At Indiana Wesleyan we had four players sign professional contracts in the past five years (including Brandon Beachy.)

Why consider the NAIA?

I tell families there are two major reasons I attended IWU. First, are academics. I had good grades, but not on par with students they typically admit. I was pushed in the classroom and wouldn’t have received an education like I did if I had attended a junior college or state school.

Second, the opportunity to play college baseball kept me in line while earning a degree. The small school atmosphere made it easier to balance academics and athletics. And it didn’t hurt that I had opportunities to play against future big leaguers like Eric Stults and Justin Masterson.

In general, NAIA colleges offer: -Competition that compares to low-end NCAA Division I or most NCAA Division II programs.

-Great financial aid packages.

-Close-knit communities and smaller class sizes.

-Relaxed recruiting rules (a coach can email and call you anytime).

-Tryouts are allowed while you are in high school. Coaches need to evaluate you at some point and this may be a great way to do it.

Hopefully this information provides another perspective. Keep in mind that the NAIA provides a chance to continue playing your sport in college—the sport you’ve played your entire life. That means an opportunity to be seen by professionals while still earning a college degree!

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