Chart: NAIA had football playoff idea early on

  • Article by: PATRICK REUSSE , Star Tribune
  • Updated: December 13, 2013 - 10:33 PM



The National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics was formed in 1952 to oversee small college athletics. The NAIA was a spinoff of the National Association for Intercollegiate Basketball, which had conducted a postseason basketball tournament at Kansas City’s Municipal Auditorium since 1940.

The newly named NAIA started sponsoring competition in other sports, including football. The NAIA became the first governing body to stage a national championship game in 1956, when Montana State and St. Joseph’s [Ind.] played to a scoreless tie in Little Rock, Ark.

The NAIA went to a four-team playoff in 1958. Gustavus Adolphus was among the invitees and lost 41-12 in the semifinals to Arizona State-Flagstaff (now Northern Arizona).

The NCAA formed a University Division (for major colleges) and a College Division (smaller colleges) in 1956. From 1964 through 1972, eight College Division teams were invited to play in a bowl game in four regions of the country, but that ended the season. There was no playoff among the four winners.

The NCAA was reformed into Division I, Division II and Division III in 1973 and started a football playoff in the two smaller divisions. The MIAC affiliated with Division III.

Before that, there were four NAIA national title games involving St. John’s or Concordia from the MIAC:

1963: St. John’s 33, Prairie View A&M 27 in Sacramento, Calif.

1964: Concordia 7, Sam Houston State 7 in Augusta, Ga.

1965: St. John’s 33, Linfield (Oregon) 0 in Augusta.

1969: Texas A&I 32, Concordia 7 in Kingsville, Texas.

Concordia also played in a pair of NAIA Division II national title games during the period (1970-96) when that organization had two classes for football:

1978: Concordia 7, Findlay 0 in Findlay, Ohio.

1981: Concordia 24, Austin College 24 in Sherman, Texas.

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