24 Week Season & Frequency of Play

 

FREQUENCY OF PLAY LIMITS

 

A: The original frequency of play limits for each sport, as listed in the bylaws, will now be reinstated. The change in post-season competition increases flexibility by permitting a current, split, or entirely postponed regular season, all of which can precede postseason play.

A: There have been no modifications made to scrimmages or exhibitions for fall sports, meaning they can continue as normal per the frequency of play definitions. However, scrimmages and exhibitions cannot occur until September 5 or September 12 for football. Scrimmages in particular tend to require significantly less cost and travel (which leads to increased exposure to the virus) compared to actual games, both of which were key reasons that game limits were reduced. As normal, exhibitions are counted in your frequency of play limits.

A: The National Administrative Council (NAC) has determined that the following minimum competitions must take place for each sport in order for the team to qualify for postseason competition: Football 6 games, Soccer 8 games, Cross Country 3 meets, and Women’s Volleyball 13 competitions.
 
Note – If the conference tournament provides an automatic qualifier for the NAIA national championship, then it cannot be considered for the minimum contest needed to qualify for NAIA postseason.

A: Based on a recommendation from the Athletics Directors Association, the Council of Presidents approved an exception to allow unlimited break periods for this year. That means you can proceed with regularly scheduled break periods and also have flexibility as needed to take breaks when your team experiences disruptions related to COVID.

A: No reductions have been made at this time for winter or spring sports. Our hope is that we will be able to proceed with winter and spring sports as normal, and no reductions will be necessary. However, we also understand that it is important to plan ahead for all contingencies. In the near future, the Council of Presidents, national office and numerous councils and committees will begin to turn our attention to winter and spring sports and contingency planning for those seasons.

A: These additional spring dates are typically used as scrimmages. The reason the rules do not restrict these dates for scrimmages only is because historically tickets could not be sold for scrimmages, and some teams wanted to sell tickets to these spring dates. Typically, the spring timing means these cannot be used to have any impact on the regular season ratings or qualification to the national championship.

To ensure that the same general approach continues this year, the Athletics Directors Association recommended that for 2020-21 the three additional spring dates can remain but should be restricted to scrimmages only. The Council of Presidents Executive Committee approved this exception. This will ensure that all soccer teams will be limited to 18 games prior to postseason.

 

START DATES

 

A: Yes. Any winter or spring sports that may begin during the fall term cannot begin practice until August 15 at earliest, and cannot participate in any competition until at least September 5.

A: No. There is not a mandatory practice period prior to a team’s first competition. The start dates provide the earliest possible date on which practices and competition can occur. Your team may begin competing on or after September 5, and is not mandated to complete a three-week practice period prior to that competition.

Please note that this structure intentionally builds in three weeks of practice in keeping with healthcare guidance as well as significant membership feedback. Accordingly, we would encourage institutions to ensure that any of NAIA teams are appropriately conditioned and acclimatized before returning to competition in the fall term.


A: The start dates were determined after significant review and determined with the best interest of the entire NAIA and all student-athletes in mind. Though there may be a number of valid reasons a team might desire an exception, there will not be any exceptions made to the start dates that were determined (September 12 for football, September 5 for all other sports).

A: No. This JV/Varsity contest may commonly be referred to as a “scrimmage,” but NAIA rules define any event that involves only students identified with your school as a practice. From a scheduling standpoint, this JV/Varsity event counts as a practice and not an official scrimmage. You could run this JV/Varsity event any time after August 15.

As soon as you involve students or individuals who are not identified with your school (another school’s team, an adult men’s league soccer team, etc.), it can no longer be considered a practice. At that point, you must consider it a contest of some kind (scrimmage, exhibition or game), and these competitions cannot occur until September 5 (September 12 for football).


 

FORFEITS/ NO CONTESTS QUESTIONS

 

A: At this time there will not be any modifications made to the forfeit policies and procedures due to COVID-related circumstances. All forfeits will be processed under the current NAIA forfeit policy through the NAIA Required Forfeit Form. Contests that are lost or canceled due to COVID-related reasons will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis by the National Administrative Council.

 

THRESHOLD APPROACH

 

A: There was a previous threshold in place to help us gauge the NAIA’s ability to sponsor a championship in the fall. For several reasons, the Council of Presidents and national office felt it was important that there was some coordination for when NAIA teams would return to play this fall, and a key component of that was ensuring there were enough teams ready and able to play in each fall sport to support competition. However, with the change to push NAIA fall championships to the spring, the threshold approach is no longer applicable. The NAIA will allow for institutions to return to competition when their state and local authorities approve of athletic participation.

A: The decision to push NAIA fall championships to the spring allows conferences the autonomy to consider the regional impact of COVID-19 when determining the appropriate time for regular season competition. It also increases flexibility by permitting a current, split, or entirely postponed regular season, all of which can precede postseason play.