liston emil
Emil Liston
  • Known as the founder of the NAIA
  • Played professional baseball for 5 years
  • Coached the Baker football team to 4 championships and the basketball team to 2
Liston, Emil
Inducted 1975

Born: August 21, 1890 – Stockton, MO

Died: October 26, 1949 – Baldwin, KS

Graduated: Baker Academy (Baldwin, KS), 1909; Baker University, 1913


Known as the founder of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA), Emil Sycamore Liston won 11 letters in football, basketball and baseball while attending college at Baker University. Liston also played professional baseball for five years and was predicted to have a bright future, but decided to coach instead.

Coaching Highlights

He began his coaching career at Fort Scott (Kansas) High School and coached in Connecticut, Michigan and Missouri before returning to Baker in 1920 as athletic director and coach. He remained in that position until retiring in 1946. Liston’s football teams at Baker won championships in 1922, 1927, 1928 and 1934 and his basketball teams also won two titles.

Lasting Influence

Liston was instrumental in helping build a new stadium and track at Baker, which now bears his name. Called the “Father of the Baker Relays,” Liston is best known for organizing the National Association of Intercollegiate Basketball tourney which became the NAIA national tournament. The organization later expanded into the NAIA which embraces all small-college sports.