KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) has announced two of its sports have achieved a new status at the conclusion of the NAIA National Administrative Council (NAC) virtual meetings, held this week. On Thursday, the association announced that women’s lacrosse will become the 27th championship sport while beach volleyball will move from ‘emerging’ to ‘invitational’ status immediately for the 2020-21 season.
Women’s lacrosse has been one of the fastest growing sports in the NAIA over the course of the last three years. Now, as the numbers of institutions that sponsor the sport as a varsity program has eclipsed the necessary 40 mark, the NAC has voted to grant it full championship status.
“Women’s lacrosse has experienced rapid growth since becoming an NAIA-sponsored sport in 2015-16,” said Jim Carr, NAIA President and CEO. “It’s exciting to witness the program coming full circle and we look forward to crowning the first NAIA lacrosse national champion in the spring.”
The first NAIA Women’s Lacrosse National Champion is slated to be crowned on May 8, 2021 at Memorial Stadium in Savannah, Ga.
Beach volleyball has also shown significant growth and will now move from the designation of ‘emerging’ to ‘invitational’ status. This change will put the sport on the cusp of full championship status if it continues to see similar growth over the next several years.
“It is exciting to see so many NAIA schools recognizing the potential of beach volleyball,” said AVCA Executive Director Kathy DeBoer. “The team-sport format adds participants to schools and drama to competitions. And, college beach courts are magnets for students seeking recreation. The combination is a low cost, high engagement sport that adds value to the NAIA experience.”
Currently 25 NAIA institutions sponsor beach volleyball as a full varsity sport. The NAIA requires that at least 25 institutions sponsor a sport at the varsity level before receiving consideration for invitational status.
The NAIA will begin a bid process for potential hosts of the NAIA Beach Volleyball Invitational this summer. More information will be released over the course of the next few months.