Effective July 1, 2021, Johnson University Tennessee will join the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA). The NAIA is a governing body of small athletics programs dedicated to character-driven intercollegiate athletics. More than 65% of its member base is faith-based institutions, including some of JU’s “sister schools” like Point University, Kentucky Christian University, and Milligan University.
“College athletics, when done the right way, can be a great blessing to our campuses, which means the athletics program will continue to be conducted in a way that demonstrates a commitment to our mission and core values,” said President Tommy Smith. “Our Johnson culture of excellence in athletics emphasizes that all of our athletes are mission-aligned (dedicated to the Great Commission), academically prepared (athletes are students first), and competitive in their specific sport. The goals for athletics reflect the expectations for the overall level of excellence of the entire institution.”
Johnson is currently part of the National Christian College Athletics Association (NCCAA). The addition of NAIA membership will offer Johnson partnerships with like-minded institutions with the benefits of a larger athletic division, opportunities to compete in a greater number of sports, and the leadership of a conference.
“We are so excited about what NAIA and the Appalachian Athletic Conference offer us,” said athletic director and men’s basketball coach Brandon Perry. “We are a growing athletic program and we believe this addition will give us great regional partners and widen the scope of our athletic recruiting base in all of our current and future sports. We are committed to doing athletics with excellence and using sport as an avenue to further the kingdom through educating student-athletes. NAIA and the AAC only strengthen that commitment.”
The Johnson Royals competed well this year in the NCCAA Division II. The JU men’s basketball team won the national championship in March, and the women’s soccer team placed third in the nation in their NCCAA tournament last fall.
“We’re excited about what the NAIA opportunity means for our entire Johnson family,” said Coach Perry. “Watch and see what happens over the next few years!”