Cottey College Gains NAIA Membership


It's a new academic year for students and a new athletic affiliation for student athletes as Cottey College joins the NAIA! 

The Comets became members of the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) in 1999 when intercollegiate athletics were reintroduced at Cottey because the College was still a two-year institution. That membership made sense then, but in 2011 Cottey began offering Bachelor of Arts degrees and students could stay at Cottey for four years to complete their undergraduate education…unless they wanted to continue playing their particular sports. Those students had the unenviable task of choosing to leave Cottey to continue their athletic career, or abandoning the sport they loved to continue their baccalaureate degree program at Cottey.

Beginning July 1, however, student athletes won’t have to make that tough call. On that date, Cottey becomes a full member of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA). The NAIA is a governing body of small college athletics programs that are dedicated to character-driven intercollegiate athletics. Cottey College was granted membership into the NAIA on April 17, 2018, at the 77th NAIA National Convention held in Kansas City, Missouri.

Describing the 10-month application and approval process, Cottey President Jann Weitzel said, “Cottey College has taken another major step forward by being accepted into the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA). On April 17, 2018, Athletic Director Stephanie Beason received word that Cottey was accepted into membership beginning with the 2018-2019 academic year. Membership will allow our amazing student athletes to remain at Cottey and compete for and represent the Comets for a full four years. This announcement follows a year of diligent work by our coaching, student life, and marketing personnel; this move to a four-year athletic program would not have been possible without their combined efforts. I invite all Cottey supporters to come out to cheer on one of the newest NAIA members, the Cottey Comets, when they are in your area.”

Athletic director and head basketball coach Stephanie Beason also commented. “The student athletes we recruit tell us they want to compete for the Comets for a full four years. Now our athletes can stay at Cottey to complete their bachelor’s degree and play their sport for all four years as well. This can only make Cottey more attractive to potential student athletes.”

Basketball player Kelsey Acton’s enthusiasm reflected the tone of most Cottey athletes. “I am so excited we are going NAIA,” said Acton, “because that means I get to play again here at Cottey for my third and fourth years. I could not be happier.”

Cottey officially becomes a member of the NAIA on July 1. The Comets will initially compete as an independent college, but will look at conference affiliations in the near future. Fall sports schedules are posted online at cottey.edu/athletics

“The big step was acceptance into membership with the NAIA,” said Beason. “As we take that first step into four-year competition, we will be looking at where the Comets might be a good fit based on our location and the athletic programs that Cottey offers.”

Also joining the association in 2018 are seven other colleges: Columbia International University (SC), Florida National University, Green Mountain College (VT), Lincoln College (IL), Ottawa University (AZ) and The Pennsylvania State University Schuylkill and Thomas More College (KY).

NAIA schools must meet membership criteria that include financial stability, sports sponsorship, accreditation and a commitment to character-driven athletics. Cottey is a good fit for the NAIA as it meets the membership criteria, and 81 percent of the member institutions are also private colleges and universities. There are 250 member schools in the NAIA, with over 65,000 student athletes.





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