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The National Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association (NIAAA) and Special Olympics Officially Launch Partnership

The organizations join forces to ensure the implementation of quality and inclusive sports programs for students of all abilities.
Two men seated with documents in front of them and a group of people standing behind them.

Washington, D.C. – April 23, 2024 – The National Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association (NIAAA) and Special Olympics, Inc. (Special Olympics) have partnered together to support athletic administrator's efforts in providing quality education-based sports participation opportunities and programming for students with intellectual disabilities (ID). The collaboration will focus on increasing the number of partnerships between NIAAA state associations and accredited Special Olympics state Programs by offering resources and training on Special Olympics Unified Champion Schools® programming and interscholastic Special Olympics Unified Sports® best practices.

One man seated and signing a document while one man stands another sits and both watch.

Unified Sports®, the most inclusive sports program worldwide, brings together Special Olympics athletes (individuals with ID) and Unified partners (individuals without ID) as teammates for training and competition. Unified Sports® is an integral part of the Unified Champion Schools® program—a strategy creating sports, leadership, and whole school engagement opportunities for students with and without ID.  

“The NIAAA is honored to announce an alignment and direct relationship with Special Olympics and Unified Sports® programs. Today affirms a partnership built on assisting those administrating interscholastic Unified Sports® at the school level. This alignment ensures that best practices are shared with our members as they work to minimize risk and improve the quality of instruction within Unified Sports®."
Phil Rison, Executive Director, National Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association

More than 9,400 schools across the nation currently offer Unified Sports®, with a growing number participating in varsity-style interscholastic leagues. During the 2022 – 2023 school year alone, 4 million Unified Sports® experiences occurred at Unified Champion Schools® programs throughout the United States.

“This strategic partnership with the NIAAA represents a significant step toward a shared goal of providing the necessary tools and knowledge to continue ensuring an inclusive and equitable experience for all Unified Sports® participants. There are so many NIAAA members already passionately leading Unified Champion Schools® programming around the country; we look forward to partnering even more closely with them to build on the momentum they have created to increase participation opportunities in schools nationwide.”
Greg Epperson, Regional President & Managing Director for Special Olympics North America

For more information on NIAAA, please visit

For more information on Special Olympics Unified Champion Schools, please visit


The NIAAA is an accredited organization and is the professional organization for interscholastic athletic administrators. Based in Indianapolis, IN, the NIAAA’s mission is to provide professional development options for directors of athletics, and to enhance the athletic administration profession. With a current individual membership of over 15,000, the NIAAA consists of member state athletic administrator associations in the 50 states, the District of Columbia, as well as internationally. The NIAAA champions the profession of athletic administration through education opportunities, advocating ethics, developing leaders, and fostering community. For more information, visit the NIAAA website at

About Special Olympics

Founded in 1968, Special Olympics is a global movement to end discrimination against people with intellectual disabilities. We foster acceptance of all people through the power of sport and programming in education, health and leadership. With nearly four million athletes and Unified Sports® partners and one million coaches and volunteers in more than 170 countries, Special Olympics delivers more than 30 Olympic-type sports and nearly 50,000 games and competitions every year. Engage with us on: X, Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, TikTok, and LinkedIn. Learn more at

Media Contact

Kendra Cummings

Special Olympics international
SONA UCS Media Relations Manager