At Northwestern College everyone has heard the amazing reviews and reports about how NW has the #1 football team and volleyball team in both the Great Plains Athletic Conference (GPAC) and the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA). While these are amazing accomplishments, what are the GPAC and NAIA, and why are they important?
To begin with, one needs to understand how colleges are separated into five different divisions when it comes to sports and activities. Those divisions are Division 1, Division 2, Division 3, NAIA and JUCO.
Division 1 or D1 is the highest level of competitive colleges with usually the most funding and usually the largest campuses. D2 is the next level down with less funding and smaller campuses. Then D3 offers no athletic scholarships and has an even smaller campus.
The division that NW is associated with is the NAIA division. This division is equivalent to a D1 and D2 school but has a much smaller campus or private college. The NAIA division has about 250 schools in the division. Within the NAIA division there are different conferences corresponding to specific regions of the country, there are 21 conferences in total in the NAIA division.
In each conference there can be as many as six to 16 teams in a conference. There are 11 total teams in the GPAC, which is the conference that NW is a part of. A couple of other schools associated in the GPAC are Dordt University in Sioux Center, Morningside College in Sioux City and Mount Marty to name a few.These are the teams that our school faces during the regular season with some odd match ups here and there throughout the year, such as the football team going against a D1 school Drake.
Throughout the year, NW has performed and proved that they can compete in everything they do from the golf teams to the volleyball team to the 2023 NAIA national champion football team. The GPAC and NAIA place NW in its ranking when it comes to athletics and activities in comparison to other schools.