SAINT MARY OF THE WOODS, Ind. - Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College (SMWC) was approved for membership in The National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) as announced by the association today.
"We are excited to become an NAIA college as we grow our athletics offerings with great intentionality," stated President Dottie L. King, Ph.D. "We share a set of common values with the NAIA which is evident through their emphasis on character development and service. We are blessed!"
SMWC joins Iowa Wesleyan University and Louisiana College as new members effective July 1, 2021, following a vote by the association's Council of Presidents. The College will be eligible for postseason competition during the 2021-22 academic year as it transitions from USCAA to NAIA.
"Becoming a member of the NAIA has been an initiative of the College and intercollegiate athletics for several years as part of the Aspire Even Higher Strategic Plan. I am appreciative of the team who helped to bring this to fruition," said Brennan Randolph, vice president for enrollment management and institutional technology.
Under NAIA, student-athletes will have the opportunity for post-season championship competition and will be provided opportunities to become more involved in the community as part of the Champions of Character programming.
"With a strong community involvement requirement, our student-athletes will have an extremely robust experience that will follow them into their careers and throughout their lives," said Randolph.
SMWC met all membership criteria including financial stability, sports sponsorship, accreditation, and a commitment to character-driven athletics. Enrollment numbers, retention rates, and overall financial commitment to athletics are also taken into consideration by the association.
"Joining the NAIA is an exciting and progressive step for SMWC and allows us room to grow," said Athletic Director Deanna Bradley. "This national affiliation will assist The Woods with building a more competitive program when it comes to recruiting, provide post-season opportunities for all of our programs while focusing on the holistic development of our student-athletes and staff."
With 14 varsity sport offerings, SMWC is the second largest athletic department among the NAIA newcomers. SMWC has added seven varsity sports since 2014 with the opening of the $8.3 million Jeanne Knoerle Sports and Recreation Center. Additional teams are planned in the upcoming years including men's basketball in fall 2021.
About National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics | NAIA
The National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics, headquartered in Kansas City, Missouri, is a governing body of small athletics programs dedicated to character-driven intercollegiate athletics. NAIA members provide more than 77,000 student-athletes with opportunities to play college sports, earn $800 million in scholarships, and compete in 27 national championships.
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