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Westcliff Athletics Joins the NAIA

By Brandon Petersen, 03/31/20, 4:15PM PDT


On Tuesday, the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) informed Westcliff University that it has officially been granted full membership.

The application process began in February 2019, when Westcliff Athletic Director Shawn Harris was hired and immediately formed a committee to accomplish the task of pursuing NAIA membership. The committee included Athletic Director Shawn Harris, Assistant Athletic Director Lydie van Deursen, Senior Assistant Athletic Director Max Ling, Head Women’s Basketball Coach Kyle Rouse, Assistant Athletic Director Katie Rouse, Institutional Research Data Analyst Visal Dom and Joanie Tennant, Westcliff’s former head Athletic Trainer. 

Logging in countless hours as a part of the effort, each committee member took on various aspects of the process, which culminated on February 27, 2020, when NAIA representatives visited campus, toured Westcliff athletic venues, and heard a presentation from the Westcliff Student Athlete Advisory Committee. 

“It is with a strong conviction and deep-rooted passion that I give sincere gratitude to the entire university for this amazing accomplishment,” Harris said. 

 When Harris joined the Warriors, he brought with him the culture of 5 C’s, a way of life that has been fully embraced by Westcliff’s student athletes and the athletic department as a whole. 

 At Westcliff, the goal is find great athletes with superior character, who can establish an exceptional culture, that will make a tremendous impact in the community, by being fully committed to excellence, which will translate into championships

 “Exceptional leadership starts from the top-down,” Harris said. “I would like to thank Dr. (Anthony) Lee, academic and athletic leadership, coaches, administrators, and, most importantly, the student-athletes who bought into our 5 C's culture.”

 Westcliff will enter its third year of athletic competition when the NAIA 2020-2021 season begins in the fall.

 The Warriors will expand their athletic department to 12 sports, with tennis, swimming & dive, surf, softball and cheer joining current programs men’s and women’s basketball, baseball, men’s and women’s volleyball, beach volleyball, cross country, track & field and men’s and women’s soccer. 

 Currently, the NAIA includes 250 member schools across 21 conferences, including the California Pacific Conference, which Westcliff will join alongside fellow newcomer Park University in the fall. 

“Both the NAIA nationally, and the Cal Pac regionally, present an opportunity for each and every student athlete to progress everyday under an empowering governing body,” Men’s Soccer Graduate Assistant Josh Glover said. “For us as Warriors it is a pursuit that will see us train academically, physically and mentally to achieve our goals in the hope that we will triumph.

“Being a part of the NAIA and the Cal Pac is the opportunity for Westcliff, the family we are and the Warriors that we are made up of to strive toward and reach greatness. We can't wait to get started!”

The NAIA includes over 77,000 student athletes and awards national championships in 27 different sports each year. 

According to the NAIA website, “Student-athletes come first in the NAIA. Their needs, desires and ambitions guide our every decision.”

“Student-athletes in the NAIA have the chance to get a quality education and at the same time learn and compete at a high level,” van Duersen said. “The NAIA provides an excellent student-athlete experience in which different life lessons will be learned including leadership, teamwork, and time management.” 

The NAIA’s Champions of Character program is designed to instill exceptional character in its student-athletes, and complements Westcliff’s 5 C’s mentality perfectly.  

“This accomplishment exemplifies when you commit to something bigger than yourself, you rise to a level much higher than yourself,” Harris said. “It is truly a great day for the Warrior family; it's go time!” 

To contact Brandon Petersen, e-mail