Rogers State University has gained acceptance into the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA).
RSU learned today that its application for membership in the NAIA was approved by the association’s Council of Presidents during its meeting in Olathe, Kan.
“The university is proud to be a member of the highly regarded NAIA, which places a strong focus on balancing academics and athletics and building character traits among student-athletes,” said RSU President Dr. Joe Wiley. “Being accepted in the NAIA is another significant milestone in the evolution of RSU as a major regional university in Oklahoma.”
This year, RSU will field teams in baseball and softball and expects to add men’s and women’s basketball in the next few years. RSU will participate as part of NAIA region six, which is one of 14 regions nationally and includes Oklahoma, Texas and a portion of New Mexico.
“The presence of intercollegiate athletic programs on campus will enrich the college experience for all of our students, afford student-athletes the chance to develop their mental and physical skills and offer members of the community an opportunity to view and support college-level sports,” Wiley said
The university selected to seek membership in the NAIA as a result of the association’s focus on building positive character traits among student athletes, commitment to a healthy balance between academics and athletics, and efforts to nurture extracurricular athletic programs as well as intercollegiate athletics, Wiley said.
“Throughout its history, the NAIA has earned a reputation that is as strong in academics as it is in athletics,” Wiley said. “The advantage for student-athletes is that the focus is as much on accomplishing academic objectives as it is on enjoying the opportunity to compete in collegiate sports.”
In 2000, the NAIA launched its Champions of Character program, designed to instill character and values among student athletes, coaches, administrators, parents and spectators. The Champions of Character program focuses on the five core values of respect, responsibility, integrity, leadership and sportsmanship. More than 45,000 athletic administrators, coaches and student athletes have completed the Champions of Character training program at colleges and universities across the nation. In addition, the NAIA is establishing program centers at the collegiate level to provide training for coaches and athletes. The NAIA also provides character training through its outreach programs for youth sports, volunteer coaches, community organizations and company employee groups.
“RSU is committed to the development of these character traits in our students both in the classroom and on the playing field,” Wiley said.
The NAIA, founded in 1937 by James Naismith, is headquartered in Olathe, Kan. The association represents more than 300 colleges and universities and 650,000 student-athletes across the nation. The NAIA hosts championships in 12 men’s and 11 women’s sports.
RSU also plans to seek membership in the Sooner Athletic Conference. RSU was attracted to the SAC by its similar standards of integrity for student athletes and its roster of respected members located in close proximity, allowing for reasonable travel schedules.
SAC members in Oklahoma include Oklahoma City University, University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma, St. Gregory’s University, Oklahoma Baptist University, Oklahoma Christian University, Northwest Oklahoma State University and Southern Nazarene University. Member schools outside the state are John Brown University in Arkansas and Lubbock Christian University and Wayland Baptist University in Texas.
“Traveling for competition with SAC member institutions will be less costly for the university and will minimize the time spent away from the classroom for participation in athletic events,” Wiley said.
The university recently hired Dawn Reed to serve as head coach of its softball team. Ron Bradley, RSU physical education director, serves as head coach of the baseball team. Assistant coaches, student coaches and volunteer coaches will assist both head coaches.
RSU has offered baseball as a club sports program for two years. Last year its baseball club completed a full schedule of competition with collegiate teams in Oklahoma, Kansas, Missouri and Texas.
For more information on RSU athletic programs, call (918) 343-7782 or 1-800-256-7511.