NAIA votes to move to one division in basketball

April 17, 2018

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THE NAIA COUNCIL OF PRESIDENTS HAS VOTED TO MERGE DIVISIONS FOR MEN’S AND WOMEN’S BASKETBALL BEGINNING IN 2020. THE NAIA HAS OFFERED CHAMPIONSHIPS IN DIVISION ONE AND DIVISION TWO SINCE 1992. THE GREAT PLAINS ATHLETIC CONFERENCE COMPETES AT THE DIVISION TWO LEVEL. GPAC COMMISSIONER COREY WESTRA SAYS THEY WEREN’T SURPRISED BY THE MOVE. HE SAYS DIVISION 2 WAS DOING VERY WELL, AND SERVING ITS PURPOSES, BUT THE DIVISION 1 NUMBERS WERE LOWER, AND IT WAS BECOMING INCREASINGLY DIFFICULT TO OPERATE. THE GPAC HAS ENJOYED A RUN OF SUCCESS, ESPECIALLY IN WOMEN’S BASKETBALL. WESTRA SAYS THE GPAC WILL MOVE FORWARD, AND THEY WILL MAKE THE MOST OUT OF THE CHANGE. THE MOVE ALSO BRINGS ABOUT A CHANGE IN SCHOLARSHIPS. CURRENTLY, DIVISION ONE TEAMS MAY OFFER 11 SCHOLARSHIPS IN BASKETBALL AND SIX FOR DIVISION TWO. WESTRA SAYS BEGINNING WITH THE 2020-2021 SEASON EIGHT SCHOLARSHIPS WILL BE THE LEVEL FOR NAIA SCHOOLS.

BASKETBALL WAS THE LONE REMAINING SPORT IN THE NAIA OFFERING MULTIPLE DIVISIONS. FOOTBALL MADE A SIMILAR MOVE TWO DECADES AGO. WESTRA SAYS THE PLAN IS FOR 64-TEAM TOURNAMENT FOR THE MEN AND WOMEN. GRACELAND WON THE NAIA MEN’S DIVISION ONE TOURNAMENT THIS PAST SEASON.