2 PHI KAPPA PHI FORUM
Delighted as I was to see the PKP Forum Summer 2016 issue focus
on sports, my disappointment was that half of the issue’s feature
articles highlighted the National Collegiate Athletic Association, or
the NCAA, as THE collegiate athletic organization. No mention
was made of the NAIA, the National Association of Intercollegiate
Athletics. While certainly NCAA is the big game in the nation, there
are college athletes who excel in their sports at NAIA colleges and
universities across the country.
Since 1937, the NAIA has focused on the student-athlete, and today
the organization reports 65,000 athletes across some 250 colleges and
universities with 25 national championships per year (see www.naia.
org for more). I don’t work for the NAIA, but I am a student-athlete
product of what the NAIA has to offer.
Coming out of high school as a solid tennis player, though not a star
athlete, I looked at many colleges across the Northeast and MidAtlantic
states. It was a small, private university in West Virginia that was able
to offer me the best package, scholarship money not only for academics
but also to play my sport. The experiences afforded me as a scholar-athlete were second to none. In my first year of college, our tennis team
won the state championship and we traveled to NAIA headquarters in
Kansas City, Missouri, to compete in the national championships.
Following my bachelor’s degree in biology earned at an NAIA
university, my sports career was superseded by my desire to pursue
graduate work in biomedicine and today I am a tenured faculty at
a midsized public university that is NCAA Division III. Being an
NAIA college athlete enabled me to play the sport I loved and afford
the education I desired. Hence, I write to encourage more people to
know that both the NCAA and the NAIA are viable options for today’s
DR. LAURA MACKEY LOREN TZEN
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