NOTE: All regulations discussed here pertain to NAIA transfer regulations. Any student transferring within the same NAIA conference may be subject to additional conference transfer regulations and/or residency requirements. Students should contact the conference eligibility chair to learn about a specific conference’s transfer rules.
When does a student need a transfer release?
In general, a transfer student is subject to a 16-week residency period if the student participated in intercollegiate athletics at the student’s most recent four-year institution. A transfer student must have a written release from the student’s previous athletics director and a minimum 2.0 GPA in order to waive the residency period and participate immediately upon identification at the new institution.
A student is not subject to the 16-week residency period in the following situations:
- The student has never participated in intercollegiate athletics.
- The student has only participated in intercollegiate athletes at a two-year institution (Junior College, trade school).
- The student previously participated in intercollegiate athletics at a four-year school, but did not participate in intercollegiate athletics at the four-year institution where the student most recently identified.
- The student previously participated in intercollegiate athletics at a four-year school, but subsequently participated in intercollegiate athletics at the two-year institution where the student most recently identified.
A common mistake occurs when a student previously participated at a four-year institution and then transfers to a two-year institution where the student does not participate. A student in this scenario requires a transfer release because the student’s immediately previous participation was for the student’s most recent four-year institution. Enrollment and attendance at a two-year institution in this situation does not negate the residency requirement.
Does a student need a release to speak with other schools?
No, NAIA student-athletes are not required to obtain a release prior to contacting potential transfer institutions with NAIA membership. NAIA rules do require that the potential transfer institution give written notice of the contact to the student’s current institution within 10 days.
Students transferring to institutions with membership in other athletic associations may have different requirements. Students should contact the applicable association prior to considering any transfer.
Is a release required for non-scholarship athletes?
The release requirement is solely based on prior participation. Athletic or other financial aid does not play a part in the determination of whether a student is subject to the 16-week residency period.
An institution’s athletics director has the sole authority to grant a release for purposes of waiving the 16-week residency period. An athletics director may choose to issue a general release (releasing a student to attend any institution) or a conditional release (releasing a student to attend only a particular institution, conference, etc.). The type of release issued is also within the sole discretion of the athletics director.
It is not sufficient for a coach or associate/assistant athletics director to issue a release.
Can an athletics director refuse to grant a release?
An athletics director has sole authority in deciding whether to issue or deny a release waiving the 16-week residency period. Institutional policy or state law, in some cases, may supersede or otherwise govern an athletics director’s authority to make a decision on denying a release.
The NAIA national office does not have authority to force any institution to grant a transfer release under any circumstances.