Two college students playing basketball

If you want to be a college athlete, the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) is an alternative to the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA). As the smaller and less strict of the two bodies, NAIA promotes character-driven athletics programs at more than 250 colleges and universities across the U.S. In Texas, nine universities and four colleges are NAIA members.

The NAIA Experience

At the heart of every NAIA experience is the student-athlete. Every year, more than 65,000 student-athletes get the chance to play college sports through NAIA programs. Athletes at NAIA schools in Texas and throughout the U.S. are expected to uphold the five Champions of Character core values of integrity, respect, responsibility, sportsmanship and servant leadership.

Each year, NAIA institutions earn Champions of Character scorecard points for character training, character recognition, character promotion, academic focus and conduct in competition. Points are also earned for exceptional student-athlete grade point averages and having minimal to no ejections during competition throughout the course of the academic year.

NAIA Colleges in Texas

You have four NAIA colleges in Texas to choose from: Jarvis Christian College in Hawkins, Paul Quinn College in Dallas, Texas College in Tyler and Wiley College in Marshall. All of them are classed as NAIA division one schools, meaning they offer division one basketball teams for both men and women.

Jarvis Christian College, which has a total undergraduate enrollment of 900 students, earned the NAIA's Five-Star Institution Award for 2016 to 2017 for scoring more than 60 out of 100 points on the NAIA Champions of Character scorecard. As well as NAIA basketball teams, Jarvis has cross country, golf, softball, volleyball and soccer teams.

A private, faith-based, liberal arts-inspired college, Paul Quinn enrolled 436 students in the academic year of 2016 to 2017. It offers basketball, cross country, soccer and volleyball.

Texas College, which has an enrollment of 927, participates in baseball, basketball, football, cross country, soccer, softball and volleyball. The college was founded in 1894 by the Christian Methodist Episcopal Church and remains affiliated with that sect.

The largest of all Texas NAIA colleges, Wiley College has an enrollment of 1,351 and offers baseball, basketball, cross country, outdoor track and field, soccer and volleyball.

NAIA Application Process

Visit the NAIA Eligibility Center on the NAIA website to determine your eligibility to play. You can also attend a showcase event, a one-day recruiting event, to show NAIA coaches your athletic skills. The process is different for freshmen, college students and international students, so make sure you download checklists for college students from the NAIA website to get started. You must create and submit an online profile, send all required documents and ask your coach to add you to your school's short list. Call NAIA on 816-595-8300 if you have any questions.