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Rules FAQ: Designation of Varsity and Junior Varsity Rosters

The determination of whether a student is considered a varsity athlete or a junior varsity athlete is critical in the application of NAIA regulations.  This is especially true when calculating financial aid limits for your varsity team.  As only varsity student count towards financial aid limits, it is vital to accurately determine your varsity and junior varsity rosters.  Each student's status is determined by the team in which the student is placed and by the level of matches and/or contests in which the student competes.

There has been some confusion regarding when the student's varsity status must be determined.  The Council of Presidents Policy Handbook addresses this issue in its institutional financial aid policy section.

"Designation of varsity or junior varsity status must be made at the time of scheduling for team sports and upon submission of entry forms for individual sports (track and field, swimming and diving, wrestling, etc.). In individual sports, athletes cannot qualify for postseason competition based on results of contests in which they are designated as junior varsity."

As this policy states, the designation of the student's status must occur prior to competition, not after the season is concluded.  This timing is especially important in individual sports (i.e., cross country, track and field, wrestling, swimming and diving and golf) where, traditionally, students are not divided into varsity and junior varsity squads.  To be clear, each student's placement in varsity or junior varsity must occur prior to competition.  Inasmuch as the student's status must be clear at the time of entry into a competition, each athlete in an individual sport is presumed to be a varsity athlete unless the student's entry form clearly states that the student is a junior varsity participant.