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Encyclopedia > National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics

The National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (better known as the NAIA) traces its roots to the National Association of Intercollegiate Basketball. The NAIB was established on March 10, 1940 in Kansas City, Missouri.


The association got its start three years after a men’s basketball tournament was held in Kansas City. The tournament was started by James Naismith and others who wanted to establish a forum for small colleges and universities to determine a national basketball champion. The original eight-team tournament expanded to 32 teams in 1938.


In 1948, the NAIB became the first national organization to open their intercollegiate postseason to black student-athletes.


In 1952, the NAIB was transformed into the NAIA, and with that came the sponsorship of additional sports. The NAIA began sponsoring intercollegiate championships for women in 1980, the first coed national athletics association to do so. The NAIB/NAIA was formed on the grounds that the older, larger NCAA was predominantly oriented toward larger institutions, particularly those which played "big time" college football.


Sports: cross country, football (men), soccer, volleyball (women), basketball, swimming, track and field, wrestling (men), baseball (men), softball (women), and tennis.


Ice hockey (men) was also sponsored until 1984.


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