Jim Carr, president and CEO of the NAIA, presented the State of the Association address Sunday, April 21 at the 72nd Annual NAIA Convention in Kansas City, Mo.
After a brief introduction by Les Purce, the president of Evergreen State College (Wash.) and the chair of the NAIA Council of Presidents, Carr gave opening remarks prior to a panel discussion.
Carr's remarks focused on the opportunities for the NAIA amid a time of change in all of intercollegiate athletics.
"Today we have the opportunity to remake the NAIA, because we know two things about this era in intercollegiate athletics: Change is here and more change is coming," Carr said.
"These potential changes will continue to reverberate throughout the industry. Our challenge is to be proactive—read the currents, fortify ourselves for the challenge, and offer a clear way forward during these uncertain times. We must continue to carve out our niche in the current landscape but be ready when things change, when opportunities present themselves. If we capitalize on those opportunities, we can play a significant role in the future of intercollegiate athletics," Carr said.
"Character-driven athletics is our niche, and it is becoming the way people see us," Carr said. "It is the flagship of everything we do and everything we are. Now more than ever, the Champions of Character program is necessary. And, we can report, without hesitation, that we have made a difference."
After his remarks, Carr was joined by a panel from the membership that included: Ted Brown, president of Martin Methodist College (Tenn.), and a member of the Council of Presidents' executive committee; Bob Burchard, athletics director and head men's basketball coach at Columbia College (Mo.). as well as a member of the board of the National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC); Mike Daniels, commissioner of the Golden State Athletic Conference; Angie Fincannon, athletics director at Taylor University (Ind.) and a member of the NAIA National Administrative Council (NAC); and Paul Sadler, faculty athletics representative at Wayland Baptist University (Texas) and the Council of Faculty Athletics Administrators (CFAR) representative to the NAIA National Coordinating Committee.
Carr posed several questions to the panel, addressing topics such as the role of character-driven athletics, the alignment of institutional missions with the NAIA mission, conference branding initiatives and future opportunities for the NAIA.
Quotes to note from the panel
• "The connection between the mission of the NAIA and the mission of our institution, Martin Methodist, couldn't be any closer. It all starts with the idea of student first, athlete second."—Ted Brown, president of Martin Methodist College (Tenn.)
• "I know someone who describes a great leader as someone who is really good in a storm, and I think that's true. Right now, college athletics is in a storm, and there are many changes to come. I think the NAIA is good in a storm."—Bob Burchard, athletics director and head men's basketball coach at Columbia College (Mo.)
• "Champions of Character has brought into focus what our institutional values have always been. I think Champions of Character has become an effective vehicle to talk about who we are as the NAIA."—Paul Sadler, faculty athletics representative at Wayland Baptist University (Texas)
• "We continue to appreciate the fact that the NAIA is student-centered. We're not limited on how much we can interact with our student-athletes, whether it's going on a mission trip together or in the recruiting process. We encourage those relationships and we take care to treat student-athletes the way they should be treated."—Angie Fincannon, athletics director at Taylor University (Ind.)
• "When I came on board at the GSAC, I was challenged to tell our story about our conference brand. And I have been impressed that people want to hear it. They want to hear the story of the GSAC and the NAIA. They want to hear the story of small college athletics and how we do things differently."—Mike Daniels, commissioner of the Golden State Athletic Conference
By Kay Hawes, NAIA Director of Marketing and Public Relations