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Multi-Team Activities: Practice or Competition?

August 14, 2013
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How to designate an activity involving multiple teams

This is the time of year when questions arise about the different types of activities in which teams can engage. Several recent questions related to whether two teams from different institutions can practice together without the activity counting toward the team’s scheduling limits in NAIA Bylaws Article I, Section F.

In an official interpretation, the NEC determined that engaging in practice activities of any kind with or against students not identified with your institution is considered competition, regardless of the activity's timeframe, format or rules enforcement. The committee reasoned that it is virtually impossible to draw a consistent distinction between a practice and competition when two teams step “on the field” together. Therefore, the committee held it is a competition when an athletic activity involves teams from two institutions and all applicable NAIA eligibility and scheduling limits apply.

A key point is that a multi-team activity only triggers this interpretation when it involves individuals “not identified with your institution.” This interpretation does not apply to an activity involving only those students identified with your institution. Therefore, it is a practice when your varsity program practices or competes against a junior varsity, alumni or club team from your institution.

It is extremely important to understand the differences between practices, scrimmages, and exhibitions Each activity has a different impact on eligibility rules and scheduling limits.

For more information on frequency of play and scheduling limits see the following Legislative Briefs
24-Week Season for Coaches
Scheduling Rules for Coaches
Summer Activities and Prospective Students