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Rolle optimistic about NAIA membership for UB

The University of The Bahamas (UB) Athletics Department is putting the final touches on its membership application for the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) as it looks to meet the October 1 deadline, according to Athletics Director Kimberley Rolle. Rolle said that they intend to apply for membership to the NAIA this academic year.

“This academic year we intend to advance on behalf of the university, an application for NAIA membership. We have worked very closely with a consultancy company who helped us to chart a course to say here is your weakness, this is what you need to work on and this is what you need to improve on,” she said.

She is cognizant of the fact that they were not able to do everything the company asked but they are confident they will do most of what is required.

“While we were not able to do all of it, we feel confident that we were able to do most of it and we feel now that the University of The Bahamas is in a good enough position to make the application,” said Rolle.

The October 1 deadline is rapidly approaching. Rolle said getting a NAIA membership is not as simple as just completing a form but it is a process and a shopping list.

“The application is not as simple as persons think. It is not just completing a form. There are a number of things that you have to do in order to ready a program in order to make an application. We have been tilling the soil over the past years,” Rolle said. She continued: “How the process works is that they will review the application. They will come on campus for a campus visit in February (2019), and come April (2019) we will know whether or not the University of The Bahamas would have been accepted as the first international university outside of Canada and the United States to have attained NAIA membership.”

If approved for membership, UB would become an official member on July 1, 2019. Rolle said she and her team feel very confident that they will secure the membership but will be relentless even if they get rejected.

“We feel very confident that we will in fact be able to secure this. If we don’t, they will say to us, University of The Bahamas, here is the shortfall and this is what you need to do. Either way, we feel good about where we are as a university,” Rolle said. “The NAIA is a good brand for us to be associated and affiliated with. Right now, Mr. Bastian (Assistant Athletic Director Sean Bastian) works hard to get our international play schedule together and having that affiliation and association, it becomes much easier for us to secure intercollegiate play where we can routinely secure schedules on a consistent basis for teams.”

According to Rolle, another benefit of UB being in the NAIA is insurance coverage for athletes.

“The NAIA provides a tremendous amount of support because of numbers as it relates to insurance, through a provider. That will work well for us, particularly given our cost of insurance locally. That will be a huge benefit that we can tie into almost instantly.”

The university chose the NAIA over the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) because it allows the university the flexibility to start with its current teams and grow at their own rate. The NCAA doesn’t provide that option because a school has to come with 10 teams – five male and five female squads. Rolle said that the NAIA is very competitive and turns out strong athletes also.

A minimum of six sports is one of the requirements of the NAIA. Currently, UB has men’s soccer, women’s volleyball, men and women’s judo, men and women’s track and field, men’s basketball, and in the spring semester, men’s golf. Currently, some of these teams play against teams in the Sun Conference of the NAIA.

Over the past year, the university has shown great improvement in the athletics arena and has produced quality athletes and teams. Last year, student-athlete Ken Mullings became a national record holder in the men’s heptathlon indoors. Also, last school year, the UB Mingoes men’s soccer team captured the Bahamas Football Association’s (BFA) league title. They finished undefeated.

UB Athletics is seeking to become attached to the Sun Conference in the NAIA – a conference that includes schools mostly in Florida with a few in South Carolina and Georgia. Sun Conference teams regularly compete for national championships in the United States. In 2015-16, 32 Sun Conference teams competed in NAIA national championships.

Sun Conference student-athletes continue to achieve remarkable national recognition. Last year, more than 80 Sun Conference student-athletes were named NAIA All-Americans, while more than 170 Sun Conference student-athletes were named NAIA All-America Scholar-Athletes.

There are about 65,000 athletes in the NAIA across 250 schools and 21 conferences in the United States and Canada. The NAIA also has championships in 26 sports including basketball, both indoor and outdoor athletics, volleyball, golf, swimming and soccer.

Simba French

Sports Reporter at The Nassau Guardian
Simba joined The Nassau Guardian in 2012 as a technical producer for Guardian Radio 96.9 FM. He joined the Editorial Department as a sports reporter in 2018. Simba has covered a wide range of sports stories, including the 2018 CARIFTA in Nassau, Bahamas.
Education: College of the Bahamas, BA Media Journalism
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