Recruiting Column: Interview with NAIA President & CEO Jim Carr

Recruiting Column: Interview with NAIA President & CEO Jim Carr

Recruiting Column

Recruiting Column: Interview with NAIA President & CEO Jim Carr


USA TODAY High School Sports has a weekly column on the recruiting process. This isn’t about where just the top five-star athletes are headed but rather a guide to the process and the pitfalls for student-athletes nationwide from This week’s article is written by Ross Hawley, the president of the company. is an industry leader in college recruiting. Their technology based recruiting service identifies the right colleges for potential recruits to pursue and provides a recruiting system that is second to none for student-athletes of all talent levels and ages.

If you’re a servant leader, you put others first. You’re not interested in status or job titles. You’re interested in seeing your team succeed. If you’re a servant leader, you’re selfless. You don’t want the credit. You want to give the credit. If you’re a servant leader, you serve the team. The team doesn’t serve you. If you’re a servant leader, you’ve figured out the meaning of true leadership!

One of the core values of The National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) happens to be servant leadership. So, it’s no coincidence that their President & CEO, Jim Carr, epitomizes what the NAIA is all about. This week I had the amazing honor of speaking with Mr. Carr. Here are this thoughts on recruiting, playing at the next level and more.

Q: What would you like high school student-athletes to know about the NAIA and its member schools?

A: The NAIA provides a truly high caliber experience for student-athletes. I think it’s critical for high school kids to realize the potential opportunities that exist at NAIA institutions. And that’s not just from an athletic perspective. Our Champions of Character program provides our student-athletes with the development needed to succeed at life. We don’t just preach our core values of integrity, respect, responsibility, sportsmanship and servant leadership. We live those values. We hold each other accountable to living by a certain standard. Imagine walking away from your collegiate experience equipped for the rest of your life. That’s what the NAIA and our member schools strive to achieve with every one of our student-athletes.

Q: What are some of the key differences between the NAIA and the NCAA?

A: I think the most obvious difference is that the NCAA is much more prescriptive than the NAIA. The extensive rules and regulations that exist at the NCAA Division I and II levels are well-documented. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it certainly can affect how a coach recruits, or even builds a team at those levels.

The NAIA governing body isn’t interested in adding unnecessary administrative burdens to our member schools, when it comes to recruiting and team building. Those are stressful enough on their own! Our focus is to be flexible and autonomous in supporting our schools. Let the individual institutions determine what they feel is appropriate based on their circumstances, not some mandate. It’s our belief that more time spent with coaches is a good thing. That’s what creates a ripe atmosphere for winning and success.

Q: Talk about scholarship and financial assistance opportunities at the NAIA level.

A: Last year, we gave out $600 million in scholarships and financial aid to roughly 65,000 student-athletes in 25 different sports. The NAIA is committed to young men and women that are committed to achieving their highest potential, both in the classroom and on the field. With college costs going up each year, we understand the importance of our financial support to these student-athletes and their families. Know what’s out there and what’s available, in terms of financial aid and let it motivate you.

Work hard in the classroom. Work hard on the field or on the court. Because it literally will pay off in the end.

Q: What advice do you have for high school students looking to play in college?

A: Focus on getting to know the institution. When coaches are recruiting you, they’re focused on learning as much about you, as possible. Take that same approach with the programs that are recruiting you. Do your research and learn. Then visit the schools that make the most sense for you. Walk the campus and see the facilities. Sit in on a class, meet with the coaches and players. Get a feel for what your day-to-day life would look like as a student, and as an athlete.

Recruiting is a lot like selling, and a coach is essentially a sales rep for his/her program. As they should, they’re going to show you all the good things and the things they want you to see. That’s their job and that’s why they’re in the position they’re in! That said, you should be looking for the things they aren’t trying to show you. Most of the time you will find what you’re looking for, good or bad, if your eyes are open.

Q: How will being a college athlete change a young person’s life?

A: There are opportunities presented to you only once in a lifetime. Being a college athlete is one those opportunities. I strongly encourage every young man and woman to take full advantage of playing at the next level, if they’re given the chance. It’s such an amazing privilege. The rest of your life, you will be a part of a team. Whether that’s in the business world, with your local church or in your family life, you will always be playing on a team. And, there’s no better prep course to the next stage of your life than college athletics. You’ll truly develop in ways you can’t understand until you look back, years later.


More USA TODAY High School Sports