In its quest to become a full “Championship Sport” under NAIA policies and guidelines, NAIA men’s volleyball has entered its second season as an “Invitational Sport.” This distinction means men’s volleyball has also moved from local control (administered locally by the teams which play the sport) to national control (administered by the NAIA national office in Kansas City, Missouri).

1. Emerging Sport – 15 or more institutions are sponsoring this sport at the varsity level and have declared for postseason play

2. Invitational Sport – With the approval of the NAIA National Administrative Council, 25 or more institutions are sponsoring this sport at the varsity level and have declared for postseason play.

3. Championship Sport – With the approval of the NAIA National Administrative Council, 40 or more institutions are sponsoring this sport at the varsity level and have declared for postseason play and a minimum of two National Invitational Championship Tournaments have been held. NAIA website: (

Along with this transition to national control, we will see the emergence of full conference sponsorship of men’s volleyball. As a conference obtains the requisite five or six schools (depending on the conference policy), men’s volleyball will be “sponsored” by that conference. To date only the Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference (CCAC) and the Heart of America Athletic Conference (HAAC) sponsor men’s volleyball as full conference sports. However, look for that number to grow as NAIA schools continue to add men’s volleyball to their intercollegiate sports inventories.

On that note, it’s a really good time to reiterate the purpose of the NAIA.

“The National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA), headquartered in Kansas City, Mo., is a governing body of small athletics programs that are dedicated to character-driven intercollegiate athletics. Since 1937, the NAIA has administered programs and championships in proper balance with the overall college educational experience. The student-athlete is the center of all NAIA experiences. Each year more than 60,000 student-athletes have the opportunity to play college sports at NAIA member institutions. The seed of the NAIA began in 1937 with the tipoff of a men’s basketball tournament in Kansas City that has become the longest running event in college basketball. Out of the tournament grew the NAIA, an association that has been an innovative leader.  The NAIA was the first collegiate athletics association to invite historically black institutions into membership and the first to sponsor both men’s and women’s national championships. In 2000, the NAIA reaffirmed its purpose to enhance the character building aspects of sport. Through Champions of Character, the NAIA seeks to create an environment in which every student-athlete, coach, official and spectator is committed to the true spirit of competition through five core values.  In 2010, the association opened the doors to the NAIA Eligibility Center, where prospective student-athletes are evaluated for academic and athletic eligibility. It delivers on the NAIA’s promise of integrity by leveling the playing field, guiding student-athlete success, and ensuring fair competition.” (


Here’s the 2016 – 2017 conference lineup for NAIA men’s volleyball

Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference

Calumet College of St. Joseph Crimson Wave

Cardinal Stritch University Wolves

Robert Morris University Eagles

St. Ambrose University Fighting Bees

Saint Xavier University Cougars

Trinity Christian University Trolls

Heart of America Athletic Conference
Clarke University Crusaders

Culver-Stockton College Wildcats

Graceland University Yellowjackets

Grand View University Vikings

Missouri Valley College Vikings

Mount Mercy University Mustangs

Unaffiliated Group 1

Appalachian Athletic Conference (AAC)/Mid-South Conference/River States Conference/The Sun Conference
Bluefield College Rams

Bryan College Lions

Campbellsville University Tigers

Cincinnati Christian University Eagles

St. Andrews University Knights

Warner University Royals

Unaffiliated Group 2

American Midwest Conference (AMC)/Great Plains Athletic Conference (GPAC)/Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference (KCAC)
Briar Cliff University Chargers

Dordt College Defenders

Lindenwood University (Belleville) Lynx

Missouri Baptist University Spartans

Morningside College Mustangs

Ottawa University Braves

Park University Pirates

Unaffiliated Group 3

California Pacific Conference (CAL PAC)/Golden State Athletic Conference (GSAC)/Wolverine-Hoosier Athletic Conference (WHAC)
Benedictine University (Mesa) Redhawks

Hope International University Royals

Lawrence Technological University Blue Devils

Lourdes University Gray Wolves

UC Merced Bobcats

Siena Heights University Saints



NAIA National Invitational Tournament Tentative Schedule

Day 1: Play in Games – Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Play-In Match #1 – #5 Seed vs #8 Seed

Play-In Match #2 – #6 Seed vs #7 Seed


Day 2: Pool Play

Thursday, April 20, 2017


Pool A Pool B
#1 Seed #2 Seed
#3 Seed #4 Seed
#6 Seed #5 Seed


Day 3: Additional Pool Play AM

Friday, April 21, 2017

Day 3: Semifinals PM

Friday, April 21, 2017

Semifinal #1 – Winner Pool A vs Pool B #2

Semifinal #2 – Winner Pool B vs Pool A #2


Day 4: Championship – Saturday, April 22, 2017

Winner Semifinal #1 vs Winner Semifinal #2


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