Rules FAQ: 24-36 Hour Rule and Progress Rule

How the 24/36 Hour rule and Progress rule affect eligibility.
Both of these bylaws affect different areas of eligibility.  The 24/36 hour rule affects terms of attendance and the Progress rule affects seasons of competition.

After completion of the second semester term or third quarter term of attendance and from then on,  a student must have accumulated a minimum of 24 institutional credit hours in the two immediately previous terms of attendance in a semester system or 36 institutional credit hours in the three immediately previous terms of attendance in a quarter system. A student in a quarter system who has not completed three quarters must have completed 24 institutional credit hours in the previous two quarter terms of attendance.  A student transferring from a quarter system to a semester system must have accumulated 24 institutional credit hours in the immediately previous two terms of attendance after the first term of attendance at the new institution.  The number of seasons previously participated is not a factor, unless applying an exception.

For the Progress rule a student must have completed at least 24 semester/36 quarter institutional credit hours to be able to compete in a second season.  This is often where confusion arises around the two rules.  These hours do not have to be completed over the previous two semesters or previous three quarters.   It is a different concept and application from the 24/36 hour rule.  The bylaw goes on to state that to participate in a third season a student must have completed 48 semester/72 quarter institutional credit hours and for a fourth season the student must have completed 72 semester/108 quarter institutional credit hours.  Even as a student is being certified for their third or fourth season they must still have completed 24 institutional credit hours in their previous two semesters or 36 institutional credit hours in their previous three quarters to meet the 24/36 hour rule.

The application of summer credit hours upon the 24/36 Hour rule and the Progress rule
There are very important differences between the 24/36 hour rule and the Progress rule when applying summer credit hours or non-term hours to meet the requirements.
Under the 24/36 hour rule a student can apply a maximum of 12 hours from summer or non-terms to meet the requirements of the bylaw.  Additionally, those summers or non-terms must have occurred after one, both or all three of the two semesters or three quarters being used to calculate the 24 or 36 hours.

Example:  A student completes 6 hours of credit in the summer prior to his/her first fall semester as a freshman.  The student becomes identified and then completes 9 hours in the Fall semester and 9 hours in the spring semester.  The student does not take any classes the subsequent summer.  Even though the student has 24 credit hours total prior to the next Fall term, the student will be ineligible under the 24/36 hour rule because he/she only has 18 hours in the previous two semesters.  The 6 hours taken in the summer term do not count for this rule because they were not taken after one or both of the two terms being counted. 

Summer and non-term credit hours are treated much differently under the Progress rule.   There is no limitation on how many hours from summer terms or non-terms a student can apply to meet the Progress rule, nor do those hours have to be completed at a certain time.

Example:  A student completes 9 hours of credit in the summer prior to his/her first fall semester as a freshman.  The student becomes identified then passes 9 hours in the Fall semester, 4 hours in an inter-term and 3 hours in the spring semester while also participating.  This student meets the progress rule requirement because he/she has completed over 24 institutional credit hours regardless of the fact that 13 of those hours were in the summer and a non-term and the summer hours did not occur after one or both of the two terms being counted.  As a reminder, this student would still not be eligible under the 24/36 hour rule because only 16 hours were completed in the previous two terms including the inter-term that occurred after the first term. 

Examples of how summer credits can affect the 24/36 hour rule and the Progress rule can be found in the following Casebook entries:
1) "Summer Credits and the 24 Hour Rule (Non-Identified Student)"
2) "Summer Credits and the 24 Hour Rule (Identified Student)"
3) "Summer Attendance"

Ramifications of the 24/36 Hour rule and Progress Rule for transfer students
This area deals specifically with the term "face value".  Transfer credits and the use of the term "face value" are treated differently under the 24/36 hour rule and the Progress rule.
Under the 24/36 hour rule, transfer credit hours recorded on the previous institution(s) transcripts are taken at "face value" at all times.  This means that all institutional credit hours passed at the previous institution(s) and posted on their transcript(s), whether the present NAIA institution accepts them as transferable hours or not, can be used to meet the requirements of the 24/36 hour rule.   An NAIA institution will not convert credit nor use converted credit under their grading system to meet the 24/36 hour rule.

Example: A transfer student enrolls at an NAIA institution having passed 15 hours and 9 hours in the previous two semester terms of attendance.  Of those 9 hours in the last term, 6 hours were passed with a grade of "D".  The NAIA institution does not accept transfer hours with a grade of "D".  The student passes 15 hours in their first term of attendance at the NAIA institution.  The student meets the 24/36 hour rule for their second term at the NAIA institution regardless of the 6 "D" hours not being accepted.  Hours used to meet the 24/36 hour rule are taken at "face value" at all times and are never converted.

Under the Progress rule, transfer credits recorded on the previous institution(s) transcript are taken at "face value" to meet the requirements of the bylaw for the first term of identification only.   This means that after one term of identification at an NAIA institution all transfer credit hours will be converted to the present institution's grading system.   Only those converted credits recorded on the NAIA institution's transcript may be used to meet the Progress Rule.

Example: A transfer student enrolls at an NAIA institution having played two previous seasons of basketball and having completed 49 hours.  The first term of attendance at the NAIA institution the student will be eligible to participate in a third season because the 49 hours are taken at "face value".  Of those 49 hours, though, 15 of them were passed with a grade of "D".  The NAIA institution does not accept transfer hours with a grade of "D".  The student passes 12 hours the first term at the NAIA institution.  After the first term, the student now has only 46 hours (34 hours accepted in transfer and 12 hours from the first term of the NAIA institution), and is not eligible to participate the second term, which is still part of the third season, under the Progress rule.   The student would have been eligible had he/she passed 14 hours in the first term at the NAIA institution because the student would have accumulated 48 overall hours and would have remained eligible to participate in the remainder of the third season under the Progress rule.

Exceptions to 24/36 Hour Rule
There are three exceptions to the 24/36 hour rule found within Article V, Section C, item 6 of the Bylaws.  If a student meets one of these exceptions then he/she receives a one term exception to the 24/36 hour rule without having to request an exception from the National Eligibility Committee under the process found at Article V, Section L of the NAIA Bylaws.  Each exception will be broken down individually into the following component parts. 

Description of student who is eligible for the exception
Requirements necessary for applicable student to meet to receive exception

Stipulations student must meet to maintain eligibility status upon use of exception
Exception #1 - Student participates in Fall prior to term beginning (Article V, Section B, item 7)
Description of Student: A student who has participated in an intercollegiate contest in the Fall prior to the term beginning who then decides to transfer or leave the institution before classes start.

Requirements of Exception:
The student is identified for participating and will be charged a term of attendance and a season of competition.  The term, though, will not be used in determining the 9/24/36 hour rule once the student matriculates at another NAIA institution.
 
The student must verify non-attendance of any class for the term in question.  The student must provide written verification from each instructor for the course enrolled in that the student did not attend class or the instructor is not aware of attendance.

Stipulations to maintain eligibility status: If a student transfers before classes start after competing the student must be aware that to participate immediately at the new institution he/she must meet the requirements of the transfer rules under Article V, Sections F and G as well as the progress rule for participation in second, third and fourth seasons under Article V, Section C, item 9 of the NAIA Bylaws. 

Exception #2 - Transfer student who has received Associate of Arts degree
Description of Student:  A transfer student who has met the graduation requirements for an associate degree from a junior college and does not meet the 24/36 rule the first term of attendance at an NAIA institution.

Requirements of Exception:
The student has not been identified with any institution(s) of higher learning for more than five semesters or seven quarters prior to arrival at the NAIA institution.  The last semester/quarter/trimester at the junior college shall count as a term of attendance 

The student must have passed all hours required for graduation during the term the graduation occurs.

Fewer than 24/36 hours were required for graduation during the last two semester/three quarter terms.

Stipulations to maintain eligibility status:  Students receiving the exception must pass at least 12 institutional credit hours in the first term of attendance at the four year school to retain eligibility for a second term of attendance. 

Exception #3 - Student who has never participated in any sport
Description of Student: A student may receive an exception to the 24/36 hour rule during the first term in which the student initially competes in any sport at the intercollegiate level, provided the student has not previously participated in any intercollegiate sport at any institution.
Requirements of Exception:

Students within their first four semester/six quarter (or equivalent) terms of attendance must meet the freshman eligibility requirements found under Article V, Section C, item 2 of the NAIA Bylaws.

Students in all terms following the fourth semester or sixth quarter (or equivalent) term of attendance must have an overall GPA of 2.00 on a 4.00 scale calculated on the basis of all transcripts from all institutions.

Stipulations to maintain eligibility status: This exception is for one term of attendance only.  After completion of one term in which the exception is applied the   student must meet the 24/36 hour rule as defined under Article V, Section C, item 6 to compete in a subsequent term.

The intent of these exceptions, as passed by the membership of the NAIA, is to provide assistance in allowing a student athlete to compete if mitigating circumstances do not permit them to be certified eligible under the 24/36 hour rule.  Hopefully, this interpretation gives a better explanation of their implementation and possibly makes the membership more aware of their availability.  Also be aware that if you have an ineligible student who does not meet one of these exceptions, an NAIA institution can request an exception to the standard rule under Article V, Section L of the NAIA Bylaws.