In the NCAA, the three divisions (I, II, and III) are separated based on the athletic scholarships that the schools can offer. I can't find any information about the similar divisions in the NAIA, other than that the NAIA Division I is comparable to NCAA Division II in skill. Is skill the only difference between NAIA DI and DII?

I found that in the past, it was based on enrollment, but that no longer seems to be the case. For example, Arizona Christian University has ~781 students and is DI. Aquinas College in Michigan is DII, yet has ~2000 students. Any insight is appreciated.


It took a bit of poking around on the NAIA site. The document that is clearest is the NAIA Guide for the College-Bound Student Athlete, see the NAIA Guide. The only sport in which there is a Division I vs Division II split is in Basketball. There the distinction between divisions is in the amount of financial aid that the institution can award (as full or partial grants). Division I is 11, Division II is 6. Aid can be full, half, or quarter scholarship awards, but the total cannot exceed the 11 or 6 when added up. So, a Division II team can give 6 full scholarships or 2 full and 8 half, or ...

So, it would appear that individual schools will make a decision based on their athletic budgets. Of course, the conference they are in may well make that decision for them, but that is how the NAIA views the divisions.

protected by Philip Kendall Mar 17 '18 at 15:15

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