Legislation FAQs

IMPORTANT: Unless otherwise noted in the below FAQs all normal eligibility rules must be met for students to be eligible to compete.


FALL 2020 ELIGIBILITY UPDATES (Added 8/12/2020)


A: Fall 2020 will be treated as a term of attendance per standard NAIA bylaws for all intents and purposes EXCEPT the 10-semester / 15-quarter limit (NAIA Bylaw Article V, Section E, Item 1). Fall 2020 will not count as a term towards this limit. Therefore, senior fall sport athletes will be allowed to return spring 2021 and compete in their 10th and final term of attendance.
Please see the Spring 2020 Sport Eligibility section to read about changes that have occurred to the Spring 2020 terms of attendance. (Added 8/19/2020)

A: No. Fall sports senior student-athletes who graduates at the conclusion of the fall or winter term may compete following graduation without satisfying the 12-Hour Enrollment Rule. The student is required to be enrolled at the NAIA institution in order to continue to compete following graduation, but the institution and/or conference can determine appropriate standards regarding the number or type of credits in which the student must be enrolled.
This is a departure from standard NAIA rules that generally require full-time enrollment to be eligible to compete. Both the National Eligibility Committee and the Council of Presidents Executive Committee recognize that not all students have the option of delaying graduation until the spring, and to apply a full-time enrollment standard after a student has graduated would require unnecessary coursework and tuition.
Many NAIA institutions may have specific requirements for enrollment in order for a student to practice on campus, be covered by insurance, or utilize dining, residential or healthcare services. It will be up to each institution and/or conference to determine options available to graduating fall sport student-athletes to compete in the spring 2021 academic term.

A: Current and prospective student-athletes will not be charged a season of competition for non-intercollegiate play in any sport from May 16, 2020 – May 15, 2021.

A student can only be charged one SOC during any 12-month period. Because the NAIA season of competition often becomes a de-facto “umbrella” under which other competition can occur without harm, this year’s uncertainty of if or to what extent a given sport will be played at any individual NAIA institution effectively undermines a student-athlete’s ability to accurately budget thr competition.

A: The Council of Presidents understands that there may be many reasons that an athlete will be forced to stop and start their athletic season that is outside of their control. Therefore, as an exception for the 2020-21 year, a student-athlete will only be charged a season of competition when the student participates in more than 50% of the maximum allowable number of intercollegiate contest in any sport, or the student competes in NAIA-approved postseason.




A: Due to the unforeseeable and uncontrollable events related to COVID-19 that resulted in the cancellation of all spring sports on March 16, the NAIA Council of Presidents, (COP) determined students competing in spring sports should not be charged a season of competition for the 2019-20 academic year. To be equitable, this policy applies to all spring sports teams on all NAIA campuses, regardless of how many competitions a team or student may have participated in, and even if the team/student participated in the fall. In its simplest terms, no NAIA student-athlete will be charged a season of competition for a spring sport in 2019-20.

A: No. The NAIA’s decisions to waive the spring sport season and to extend terms of attendance for spring sport competition do not apply to fall or winter sport student-athletes.

A: Any sport that has its championship in the spring. NAIA spring sports are baseball, men’s and women’s golf,  men’s and women’s lacrosse, men’s and women’s outdoor track and field, softball, men’s and women’s tennis, and men’s volleyball.

A: By extension, the National Eligibility Committee has determined that no non-intercollegiate seasons of competition for spring sports will be charged from May 16, 2019 to May 15, 2020. This is in recognition of the fact that many students may have played in non-intercollegiate competition during the summer or fall of 2019 expecting for that play to be grouped into the same season of competition as the Spring 2020 collegiate season. Waiving the intercollegiate season but still charging for the outside play would prevent the students from being able to take advantage of the waived Spring 2020 season.
This applies to all student-athletes for any spring sport during the time period of May 16, 2019 – May 15, 2020, regardless of whether the student was identified with an NAIA institution at the time of competition or in the Spring of 2020.

A: As long as all of his competition on the summer team occurred on or after May 16, 2019, he will not be charged a season of competition for either this outside competition or his participation on your school team so far this spring. He will not be charged with any seasons of competition during this time period. However, if he played on the chargeable summer team prior to May 16, 2019 that could result in him being charged a season for outside competition since that participation could not have been expected to fit within the same 12-month window as the spring 2020 season.

A: This past spring when our governing bodies were determining the spring 2020 exceptions, the ruling was to provide an additional two terms of attendance (or three quarter-terms) for spring sport athletes. This fall, the decision has been to make fall 2020 not count towards the total maximum limit to compete in the NAIA.
Thinking through this a bit more, we found out that in application, this would provide a spring sport athlete with an additional three terms of attendance (or four, for quarter schools) which was never the intent behind the exception. The intent behind the exception to the terms of attendance was to not burden a student-athlete if they wish to make up the spring sport season they lost in spring 2020. Knowing that many spring sports span throughout the academic year, the intent has always been to provide spring sport athletes who were identified in the spring 2020 term (and/or winter 2020 quarter, spring 2020 quarter) one or two terms so that they may finish their make-up season.
Therefore, the decision has been to treat the Spring 2020 term of attendance exception the same as the Fall 2020 term of attendance exception. Meaning, Spring 2020 (and Winter 2020 for quarter schools) will not count as a term of attendance for spring sport athletes only. Fall 2020 will not count towards the maximum 10 semester/ 15 quarter term of attendance limit for all NAIA athletes identified in the fall.

A: No. The ability to waive Spring 2020 (or Winter 2020 quarter/ Spring 2020 quarter) is reserved for spring sport student-athletes only.




A: Yes. In conjunction with the National Eligibility Committee and Council of Faculty Athletics Representatives, the Council of Presidents has approved an exception to initial eligibility rules for incoming freshmen in 2020-21.


A student that does not have a satisfactory test score can satisfy freshman eligibility standards and become eligible by having at least a 2.000 final high school GPA. The student will receive an eligible determination from the eligibility center. However, any student using this exception will be required to earn at least a 2.000 cumulative collegiate GPA prior to their next season of competition in order to maintain eligibility and compete in that following season. This additional collegiate GPA requirement is required as part of the student’s ability to gain eligibility immediately by use of solely a high school GPA, and is in addition to any applicable continuing eligibility rules that would normally apply.


The 2.000 cumulative GPA that is required prior to the student’s next season of competition will be sport specific. For example, a student who becomes eligible in cross country based off of this initial eligibility exception will not be required to have a 2.000 cumulative collegiate GPA prior to indoor or outdoor track and field in 2020-21. Rather, the student will be required to meet the collegiate 2.000 cumulative GPA prior to their second cross country season of competition. Institutions will verify satisfaction of the college GPA requirement within the ECP software.


All 2020-2021 entering freshmen can still become eligible by satisfying two out of the three requirements, as normal. Any freshmen gaining eligibility this way will not be required to meet a collegiate 2.00 GPA prior to their second season of competition.

A: The bylaws define “entering freshman” as any student who has not previously used two semester / three quarter terms of attendance. As it relates to the COVID-19 freshman exception, any student who has not already been identified for two semester or three quarters is eligible to use the exception, regardless of when they graduated high school and whether they have been charged any seasons of competition.

A: The class rank exception is still available to those students who do not have a qualifying class rank. The COVID-19 freshman exception has no impact on the class rank exception.


For example, a student could gain eligibility as a freshman by earning 9 institutional credit hours and having a 2.000 high school GPA. In that scenario, the student would not be required to utilize the COVID-19 freshman exception, and would not be required to earn a collegiate 2.00 GPA prior to their second season of competition.


The student could also gain eligibility as a freshman by earning 9 institutional credit hours and a satisfactory ACT or SAT test score.

A: Yes, this student would be able to utilize the COVID-19 freshman exception because he would still be considered an entering freshman in the fall of 2020 because it would be considered his second semester term of attendance. To be eligible for his second season of competition in 2021-22, he would have to have a cumulative 2.000 collegiate GPA at his NAIA school.

A: The student is still considered an entering freshman because she will be in her second semester term of attendance, and therefore the COVID-19 freshman exception can apply. The student can be certified to play in 2020-21 based off a 2.000 HS GPA, even though it will be her second season of competition. Prior to competing in her third season of competition, she will be required to have a 2.000 collegiate GPA because she used the COVID-19 exception, and because she is officially considered a junior athletically and is required to do so per NAIA Bylaws Article V, Section C, Item 9.

A: Yes, this student could utilize the COVID-19 freshman exception by having a 2.000 high school GPA since he is still considered an entering freshman. The 2.000 cumulative collegiate GPA at the NAIA institution will not be required until the student is certified for his third season of competition (Fall 2021).
In this scenario, the athlete will still need to meet the progress rule prior to the second season of competition.

A: The NAIA does not regulate letters of intent at the national level. It will be up to the prospective student to determine if they were to break the letter of intent, what implications may arise. For instance, will this prohibit the student from transferring within the conference? This will be up to the student, school, and conference to determine.




A: If an NAIA school announces they have canceled their fall season (as opposed to temporarily suspend until the spring), an NAIA athlete may transfer and be eligible to compete immediately. However, if the athlete transfers within conference and the conference has stricter transfer regulations (i.e. an athlete must sit an entire academic year before competing) then the athlete will be held to the stricter transfer regulations.

A: The NAIA honors seasons as charged by other athletic associations. The NCAA is also waiving spring sport seasons of competition, so the expectation would be that the student would not be charged by the NCAA, which the NAIA would then honor. As it relates to the terms of attendance, the NAIA assesses terms of attendance for each transfer student. If this student was enrolled full-time in spring 2020 at their NCAA school, spring 2020 will be counted as a term of attendance but the student would also have the opportunity to play through 12 TOAs in the NAIA.

A: Yes, standard NAIA bylaws would apply. Since she is not charged a season of competition for this year, she still has one season of competition remaining, and as long as she is pursuing a post-graduate degree program at the new NAIA institution she can continue to compete.

A: Yes, standard NAIA transfer residency rules will still apply. This particular student could serve the residency in the fall term, or receive the exception to residency by having at least a 2.000 GPA and a release from her previous athletic director.




A: If he’s staying at the same school from which he’s graduating, he can pursue either a second baccalaureate degree or major, or a graduate or professional degree or fifth-year teacher education program. Seniors (and all other students) have to be identified to compete, so to play in both fall 2020 and spring 2021, he will have to be enrolled full-time in both terms (12 hours if pursuing undergraduate work, full-time load as defined by the program if pursuing graduate work). The only way he could be enrolled in less than a full-time course load is he qualifies for the senior exception his final term before graduation in the second baccalaureate or graduate degree.

A: No, she is not required to be identified or even enrolled in fall 2020 in order to compete in spring 2021. However, she will be required to earn all necessary hours to compete in spring 2021, so choosing not to enroll in fall 2020 could make it harder to earn the necessary hours. It will be the student’s responsibility to ensure she has earned all necessary hours prior to spring 2021.

A: Yes. She would still need to meet the 24/36 hour rule, but when one of the most recent TOAs is a graduate term, the 24/36-Hour Rule is pro-rated to what the program considers to be full time. So in this case, the student’s 24/36-Hour Rule requirements would be as follows:
  • Fall 2020: two (2) most recent TOAs are undergraduate = 24 undergrad hours required
  • Spring 2021: one (1) most recent TOA is undergraduate, 1 is graduate = 12 undergrad hours + 9 graduate hours required

A: Yes, BUT the NEC is prepared to review these situations on a case-by-case basis as requests for exceptions. The NEC sympathizes with circumstances like these and intends to provide leniency for situations outside the student’s control that prevented the student from graduating, but did not see an appropriate way to grant a blanket exception. Thus, such scenarios will be handled as individual exceptions.




A: If a school chooses to allow more opportunities for non-standard grading models, for purposes of determining GPA these grades would be given whatever value the school assigns them. For current NAIA students continuing on at the same institution, the GPA listed on the school’s official transcript will be used. For transfer students, the student’s new school will have to confirm the value of these grades and how they will be accepted in order to calculate the student’s GPA.

A: The GPA that appears on the institution’s official transcript will be used to determine eligibility. If a student’s GPA is directly and adversely affected by extenuating circumstances from the national COVID-19 emergency, the student’s institution has the option to request an exception to seek relief.

A: These classes can be used to help meet the 24/36 Hour-Rule and the Progress Rule as long as they continue to meet the definition of institutional credit. There could be implications on an individual student-athlete’s GPA in a way that impacts eligibility, there have not been any exceptions to standard GPA rules granted in response to COVID-19. If an institution believes there is a compelling situation that needs further attention, the institution has the opportunity to request an exception on a case-by-case basis.

A: Application of the repeat rule (NAIA Bylaws Article V, Section C, Item 12) will not apply to courses taken Winter 2020, Spring 2020 or Summer 2020. Courses that were first attempted or repeated during these terms will not be restricted to the terms found in this bylaw. That means that for this example, both the course passed with a ‘D’ and the repeat attempt in Spring 2020 passed with a ‘P’ will count towards the 24/36-Hour Rule.

A: The Competitive Experience Form is generally required when students have breaks in enrollment and/or are not charged seasons of competition. Recognizing that all spring 2020 student-athletes would meet the latter, it is not necessary for schools to fill out the form for spring-sport student-athletes based on 2019-20 enrollment or competition. The Competitive Experience Form will only be required for those spring-sport student-athletes who would meet the criteria for the form (see below) prior to May 16, 2019.


The Competitive Experience Form should be completed for any student who meets any of the following criteria since from the time of his or her Eligibility Center determination through May 16, 2019:


  1. NAIA Identification: Student was identified at an NAIA institution but not certified as eligible for one or more academic terms.
  2. Non-NAIA Identification: Student is transferring from a non-NAIA institution and was not charged a season of competition for every year in which student was enrolled full-time at a non-NAIA institution. If a student was not charged a season of competition during each year that the student was enrolled full-time at a non-NAIA institution, the student’s non-collegiate participation in that year(s) is subject to a competitive experience review.
  3. No Identification: Student has a break in continuous, full-time enrollment from any institution.




A: An institution can provide this sort of emergency relief for a student-athlete so long as such opportunities or benefits are available to all students on campus.

A: Yes. NAIA bylaws permit a third party relief organization to provide financial assistance to student-athletes in times of natural disaster or emergency, assuming such opportunities are available to other students who are similarly affected.

A: NAIA financial assistance bylaws passed in 2019 now allow student-athletes to receive financial benefits from third-party individuals.




A: No. The NAIA Council of Presidents decided not to change the existing team financial aid limits for 2020-2021. All financial aid policies and academic exemptions will apply. Note: Independent of COVID-19 implications, the COP did accept recommendations from the Financial Aid Task Force to amend portions of the financial aid policy beginning August 2020. More detailed information will be coming soon regarding these changes, but in the meantime you can review the recommendations here.

A: Yes. Even though the student-athletes have been granted an exception that waives the season of competition, financial aid policies require institutions to report aid for students who participate. While the COVID-19 pandemic hindered students from competing and thus warranted an exception regarding seasons of competition, it does not substantially impact a school’s ability to submit financial aid reporting. Further, the analytical insights gained from having data on institutional finances related to athletics will be more important than ever, meaning the absence of any financial aid data for all spring sports would be very detrimental to NAIA schools in the future. Note: Beginning Fall 2020, the Year-End Report financial aid submission will be merged with ROA data. This means all NAIA institutions will submit one cumulative set of data that will be used to provide information on financial aid maximum team limits (previously known as Year-End Report) and also to populate ROA Insights analytics. Each school will submit its information regarding the 2019-2020 school year by December 1, 2020.

A: As mentioned in the above answer, it will be important that NAIA members have access to spring financial aid data, so we’ll have to make due the best we can in this scenario. The solution, for those spring sports that have did actually begin to compete, is to submit financial aid data reporting on the student-athletes the coaching staff anticipated would have been varsity participants. Obviously this is not an exact science, and there will be a significant degree of trust extended to athletics directors in submitting this information. The purpose here is to ensure all NAIA members have the benefit of thorough financial aid data across all sports when as viewed through the ROA Insights platform.

A: Dual-sport spring student-athletes will still have their aid split evenly between all sports for which they competed as a varsity student-athlete. Even if the spring team was not able to begin competitions, the student’s aid can still be split with the fall/winter sport(s) in keeping with what was previously anticipated.

A: Yes, the student can receive such funds from your institution. Per Article II, Section B, Item 1b, NAIA student-athletes can receive additional financial benefits from your institution beyond the standard tuition + room/board + books/fees if the financial benefits are available to all students and not just student-athletes.


As it relates to financial aid limits, generally any aid like this that is provided by your institution would meet the definition of countable aid. However, Article II, Section B, Item 1b specifically states that such aid should “not discriminate for or against presumed or recognized athletes,” meaning that institutions should be able to distribute such funds to student-athletes without negative implication. Therefore, financial benefits allocated to student-athletes through financial support such as the CARES Act and that are available to athletes and non-athletes alike will not count as countable aid and will not accumulate towards a team’s maximum upper limit.




A: The Council of Presidents have decided to not allow practices until August 15th in any NAIA sport. Therefore, it would be an institution’s decision if it is going to have facilities open and available.

A: No. The NAIA does not currently restrict recruiting periods, frequency or travel opportunities, and does not plan to do so. Recruiting and enrollment continue to be vital functions for NAIA institutions and the NAIA does not wish to negatively impact these efforts. Standard NAIA recruiting rules will continue to apply as written, and institutions may limit any recruiting activities as necessary to protect the safety of all involved.

A: NAIA recruiting rules continue to apply as written. Students who are graduating this spring can be contacted once they graduate or complete all requirements for graduation, whichever is later. As always, a student-athlete is free to reach out to coaches at another school at any time without restriction.

A: Yes. NAIA recruiting rules state an NAIA coach cannot initiate contact with a junior college student until after the end of the academic year in which the student competed in his or her first season of competition. In this scenario, while the NJCAA has decided to waive the charging of the season, the student did compete in her first year of play at the junior college. As long as the NAIA coach waits until the end of this academic year, the coach is then allowed to reach out and initiate contact with the junior college student.

A: Yes. NAIA recruiting rules are unchanged. As always, an NAIA coach can initiate contact with a student identified at a junior college after the end of the academic year in which the student uses his or her first season of competition. In this case, the student completed their first season of competition (and the corresponding academic year) prior to 2019-20, and NAIA coaches are free to initiate contact with this student right now.




A: Yes, you can tryout and evaluate multiple student-athletes at the same time.

A: From now (June 25, 2020) until August 15th current student-athletes cannot participate in tryouts with prospective student-athletes. This would be a violation requiring a self-report to be reviewed by the Conduct and Ethics Committee.

A: You could use a member of your coaching staff or another prospective student athlete. You could not use one of your current student-athletes.

A: Tryouts, like normal, can be conducted anywhere without restriction.