Scheduling & Competition FAQs




A: No. The national office has been tracking on the school and conference announcements related to fall sports. Because all NAIA fall championships have been moved to the spring, there is no need for schools to submit information at this time. The national office will request updated declaration of intent (DOI) information from all members in late August.

A: Not yet. In late August, the national office will collect updated declaration of intent forms from the membership to confirm each school’s sports.

A: Not yet. An updated declaration of intent process will be conducted in late August, for schools to update sports sponsorship information. Additional questions will include whether the school plans to compete in the fall only, spring only, or both fall and spring.

A: Pursuant to current policy, a school can undeclare from a sport without penalty, as long as they undeclare at least four weeks before the conference’s postseason play begins. If a school undeclares after the four week deadline, it is referred to the National Administrative Council for review.

A: The National Administrative Council will continue to review the AQ standards and will determine if adjustments should be made at a later date.





A: There was a previous threshold in place to help us gauge NAIA sponsor 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 that 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 However, with the change to push NAIA fall championships to the spring, the threshold approach is no longer applicable.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.

A: Yes, there must be 50% of NAIA teams in the respective sport competing at the end of the season for a national championship to be held.




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.
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.




A: Yes. The start date applies only to when your student-athletes can engage in in-person practice. It is up to your institution to decide when to bring your student-athletes and student body back to campus.

A: Yes. The bylaws define a week as Monday (12:00 a.m.) through Sunday (11:59 p.m.). Any practice or competition during this period shall constitute one of the 24 weeks permitted.

A: Yes. Any 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).




A: A practice is any activity organized and/or directed by any member of the coaching staff in which either (a) equipment of the sport is used or (b) instruction and/or evaluation of the athlete takes place. Here are some activities that are considered a practice:
  • Film review sessions involving a coach and one or more student-athletes
  • Walkthrough drills (regardless of the use of equipment)
  • Individual skills workouts (batting practice, putting lessons, etc.) involving a member of the coaching staff
  • Open gyms that are attended and observed by a member of the coaching staff
For more information, view this entry in the NAIA Interpretation Library.

A: No. Weight training and conditioning activities are not considered practice, assuming no sport equipment or sport-specific instruction takes place.

A: Yes. Technically, use of Zoom or similar platforms to evaluate or instruct a student in their sport does meet the definition of a practice. As an exception to the practice restriction, virtual sessions will be permitted and are not restricted. In-person practices have been restricted to prevent student-athletes from returning to campus and gathering with one another until it’s absolutely necessary and all appropriate safety protocols are securely in place. Virtual sessions allow for these same parameters, and as such will be permitted.

A: Coaches are allowed to give guidance relating to drills or conditioning as requested by players as long as it is voluntary and they are not held accountable to the activity. This is not considered a practice and will be permitted prior to August 15.

A: Whether an open gym is considered a practice or not depends on how the open gym is organized. Individual players are not prevented from getting together voluntarily to shoot around in an open gym setting. However, if a member of the coaching staff is involved in the organization of the open gym or sits in the bleachers and observes the open gym, it has now become a practice. The best way to help your players participate in open gyms over the summer is to ensure any open gym sessions are public and open to all students, and that coaches are not present during the open gym. Team captains are free to coordinate attendance with other players, but coaches should steer clear.
For more information, view this entry in the NAIA Interpretation Library.

A: No. There is no such thing as a “joint practice” in the NAIA. A practice can only include individuals who are identified with your campus, or in other words enrolled full-time. As soon as individuals not identified with your campus participate, it is no longer a practice and must be viewed as a competition of some kind (scrimmage, exhibition or contest).

For more information, view this entry in the NAIA Interpretation Library.

A: As it relates to summer camps where student-athletes serve as employees (rather than attendees) of the camp, the long-standing interpretation has been that the student-athletes are acting in the role of employees during that time rather than student-athlete (for purposes of amateurism, financial assistance, frequency of play, etc.). This is in keeping with how the NAIA treats a student-athlete who has a part-time job working at the tennis club alongside her coach (tennis pro): the student is in the role of employee rather than student-athlete, and those shifts worked do not count towards the 24-week season or game limits. Therefore, this type of summer camp is considered employment for the student-athlete and is not considered a practice, so long as the student-athlete’s involvement is limited to that which is necessary for running the camp.

To be clear, this interpretation applies to summer camps that NAIA coaches/students run for local youth or similar populations. This interpretation does NOT apply to a “camp” that is run by your coaching staff for your student-athletes, such as a “summer boot camp.” This type of boot camp is considered practice and is not permitted this summer.

A: Yes. As long as the current student-athlete’s involvement is limited to that which is necessary to run the camp from an employee standpoint, then they can be a part of these camps.

A: No. Even in normal years, there is nothing that prevents a college coach from also being on a club coaching staff. Since we do not prohibit a coach from serving in both of these roles, the long-standing interpretation has been that as it relates to interaction with current or prospective students we must evaluate when the coach is acting in his role as ‘club coach’ and when he is acting in his role as ‘NAIA coach’.

For example, when acting in the role of club coach, he cannot leverage any of the benefits of also being a coach for your institution: the coach can’t give the players special access to school facilities or equipment that wouldn’t be available to all other club coaches; if there’s a fee for the public to rent the gym then the coach would have to pay the full fee.

The same is true as it relates to NAIA recruiting rules. The summer club team might also include student-athletes who attend a different college. As their club coach, the coach has to be able to initiate contact with them, even though typically NAIA rules would prevent an NAIA coach from initiating contact with players from another institution.




A: Yes. However the Athletic Directors Association (ADA) proposed and the Council of Presidents Executive Council accepted a proposal that prohibits current student-athletes from participating in tryouts from now (June 25, 2020) through August 15, 2020.

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.