In this week's brief, we will discuss when a prospective student-athlete may practice with an institution. With the summer months beginning to wind down and the school year on the horizon, we have received a few questions from coaches about when can their prospective students (incoming freshman or transfers) begin practicing with their teams. NAIA Bylaws Article V, Section B, Item 15 provides two exceptions for when a prospective student is allowed to practice with an NAIA institution. Exception 1 speaks to practicing during the summer months and Exception 2 speaks to practicing before and in between academic terms. The first exception is covered in the June 2016 Legislative Brief titled, “Summer Practice and Participation,” which outlines when prospective students can begin practicing with an NAIA team over the summer.
As a reminder, a prospective student-athlete is considered “an individual who has never identified or whose previous collegiate identification was with another collegiate institution. The individual remains a prospective student until the student identifies with an institution.” The second exception under the Prospective Student definition in the bylaws indicates when a prospective student may practice prior to the start of the term and in between terms. The exception reads, “a prospective student, who is a high school graduate (or the equivalent) and not identified with any other institution of higher learning, may practice with an institution's team(s) prior to the start of the institution's academic term or between regular terms, if the practice activity occurs during the team's 24-week season. Such practice activities are not considered to be a tryout”.
This exception specifically speaks to those students who arrive on campus on or after August 1st who may not be enrolled in classes right away, but wish to start practicing with their NAIA team. August 1st marks the first day in which a team's 24-week season can begin. However, the key point to this exception is that once the academic term starts (the first day of class) and the student is not enrolled at that institution, the student must cease practicing with the NAIA team until they can become identified with the NAIA institution.
Please refer to the casebook example found under NAIA bylaws Article V, Section B, Item 15. This casebook example illustrates that a prospective student cannot practice with a team during an academic term.
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