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The college, with approximately 2,500 students, is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) and the Transnational Association of Christian Colleges and Schools.The university's athletic teams, the Bruins, compete in Division II of the National Christian College Athletic Association (NCCAA).Each fall, as a recruiting tool, the university sponsors a "High School Festival" in which students compete in music, art, and speech (including preaching) contests with their peers from around the country.In the spring, a similar competition sponsored by the American Association of Christian Schools, and hosted by BJU since 1977, brings thousands of national finalists to the university from around the country.

More than a hundred concerts, recitals, and laboratory theater productions are also presented annually.

Jones later recalled that in 1924, his friend William Jennings Bryan had leaned over to him at a Bible conference service in Winona Lake, Indiana, and said, "If schools and colleges do not quit teaching evolution as a fact, we are going to become a nation of atheists." While he himself was not a college graduate, Jones grew determined to found a college, and on September 12, 1927, he opened Bob Jones College in Panama City, Florida, with 88 students.

Jones said that although he had been averse to naming the school after himself, his friends overcame his reluctance "with the argument that the school would be called by that name because of my connection with it, and to attempt to give it any other name would confuse the people".

Bob Jones took no salary from the college and helped support the school with personal savings and income from his evangelistic campaigns. The Florida land boom had peaked in 1925, and a hurricane in September 1926 further reduced land values. Bob Jones College barely survived bankruptcy and its move to Cleveland, Tennessee in 1933.

In the same year, the college also ended participation in intercollegiate sports.

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