By Derek Diesner
Special to Independent Newsmedia
The National Christian College Athletic Association (NCCAA) announced May 2, that Ottawa University Arizona has been accepted on a full membership into the NCCAA in time for the 2017-18 athletic season. All eligible sports will be able to qualify for the national championships in year one.
“On behalf of President Kevin Eichner and the rest of our great university family it is with great thankfulness and joy that OUAZ accepts full membership into the NCCAA,” said OUAZ Director of Athletics Kevin Steele. “Our values align, and our mission as a Christian university fits well with this excellent association. I would especially like to thank Ben Belleman and Paul Berry as they served the NCCAA on the site committee and took great time and care getting to know us as a university as well as an athletics program.
“Being accepted as full members allows us the opportunity to not only identify with a longtime respected national association of significance, but also the opportunity to compete in postseason play and perhaps even national championships in our inaugural seasons. This opportunity is incredibly important to our recruiting and scheduling tasks in these early days as a program. I thank the Lord for the acceptance into this membership and look forward to working alongside all of our national staff and fellow members,” he said.
The NCCAA was incorporated to provide a Christian-based organization that functions uniquely as a national and international agency for the promotion of outreach and ministry and for the maintenance, enhancement and promotion of intercollegiate athletic competition with a Christian perspective.
Established in 1968 in Canton, Ohio, the NCCAA held its first men’s basketball tournament in Detroit in 1968. The NCCAA was incorporated in December 1982. Non-profit status was granted in May of 1983.
In May 2000, the NCCAA officially moved the National Office to Greenville, S.C. where it resides today.
In 1973, the NCCAA launched into other sports, developing national competition in cross country, track and field and men’s soccer. Bible colleges, which had competed well against liberal arts colleges, submitted a plan to add a second division. Division II basketball was developed in 1975 for the Bible colleges (non-scholarship), along with national competition in wrestling. Over the years, national championship competition in several other sports began: women’s basketball, men’s and women’s volleyball, softball, men’s golf, women’s soccer, men’s and women’s tennis, baseball, football and indoor track and field.
Four executive directors have led the NCCAA during its existence. Dan Wood is the current director (2000-present in Greenville, SC). The membership has grown to approximately 100 Christ-centered colleges and universities and the mission has gone far beyond just winning a tournament.
“The NCCAA is excited to welcome Ottawa University Arizona as a new member for the 2017-18 academic year,” said NCCAA Executive Director Dan Wood. “The experienced leadership team in place and the desire to use athletics to share Christ internally and externally led to the offering of Full Member status.”
Among the 20 sports that OUAZ will have competing in year one, all but three will be recognized by the NCCAA. Only men’s volleyball, competitive cheer, and competitive dance are not sponsored sports by the NCCAA. Football will compete in the Fall of 2018, and be eligible for the 2018 Victory Bowl Invitational.
For information about OUAZ athletics, visit http://www.ouazspirit.com/index.php. Follow OUAZ athletics on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/OUAZSpiritAthletics/ and on Twitter twitter.com/OUAZSpirit.
Editor’s note: Derek Diesner is the sports information director for Ottawa University Arizona.