A little more than a week separates us from the start of the 2022 NAIA football season.
The NAIA does not have nearly the amount of publicity it should, but that could change this season. In 2022, with the popularity of recruiting, the NAIA is becoming a viable option for kids.
That also means that it is becoming a viable option for fans, especially those that are within the region of these programs. So let’s give a miniature list of things you need to know before the NAIA season starts:
NAIA’s system is closer to Division II than Division III
It’s amazing how the vast majority of the population doesn’t understand that the NAIA is closer to NCAA Division II than it is to NCAA Division III. NAIA football programs have 24 athletic scholarships to give out in any way they please.
D-II programs have 36 of those scholarships, while D-III has zero. Receiving scholarship money at the D-III level must come for academic achievement.
The NAIA has several games scheduled against NCAA teams. It will be interesting to see how those contests turn out.
How the playoffs work
In the NAIA, a true national champion is crowned. The regular season is all about winning to earn a spot at the table. After that, there are four rounds to determine a national champion.
To earn a playoff bid, schools must win a conference or division championship, or be ranked high enough in the NAIA Coaches Poll to secure an at-large bid. There are very few at-large bids available.
Traveling for NAIA players
Traveling can vary for many NAIA programs. Players in the Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference can expect lighter travel as most of their games stay within the state of Kansas.
Programs in the Mid-South or allies within its scheduling range could expect some trips to last more than eight hours and that’s just one way. Sometimes the teams fly, but the majority use charter busses to get around. Keep in mind that traveling to away games can bring real adversity for NAIA programs.
Featured image courtesy of Southeastern athletics