As institutions and students begin to plan spring soccer events, it is important to remember how NAIA rules come into play for spring competition.
The scheduling limit for soccer is 18 contests. These 18 contests can be played at any time during a team’s 24-week season. If an institution’s soccer team did not use all 18 available games during the fall term, it could use any remaining contests during the spring term.
During the spring semester, an institution may also schedule three additional playing dates. These dates may only be played during weekends (Saturday and Sunday) and other nonscheduled class dates (according to the institution’s academic calendar).
The additional spring contests are expressed in terms of dates rather than games. A team may play multiple games on a single day which would count as one date, as opposed to each individual game counting towards the limit.
Spring games will not be counted toward the team’s win-loss record, team or individual statistics, or ranking.
All student-athletes who participate in spring competition must be certified as eligible.
Student-athletes frequently compete in small-team outdoor soccer tournaments (e.g., 7v7, 3v3) this time of year, but be aware of how these competitions may affect your institution. Regardless of the number of players competing in an outdoor soccer competition, unless every student participating satisfies the unattached student-athlete exception, the students are deemed to be representing your institution in competition. Such competition is then considered part of a soccer team’s 24-week season, must count towards playing limits for the team and student-athlete, and participating students would be required to be certified as eligible.
As an exception to the season of competition bylaw, a student-athlete who competes unattached will not be charged a season of competition for that participation. Seven criteria exist for unattached competition. If any one of the seven criteria is not met, a student-athlete is deemed to have represented the institution in competition. As a result, the student will be charged a season of competition, the contests will count toward the student’s and team’s scheduling limits, the competition will be part of the team’s 24-week season, and an eligibility violation may have occurred if the student was not eligible at the time of competition.
While enrolled as a full-time collegiate student at an NAIA institution, a student is considered to be competing as an unattached student-athlete if the following seven criteria are met:
1. A coach or representative of the athletics department cannot enter the student(s) in the event;
2. The institution or its representative cannot provide transportation to the event, from the event, or at the event;
3. The institution or its representative cannot provide meals or housing to the student(s) with regard to the event;
4. The student(s) cannot wear an institutional uniform nor use the institution's name in the event;
5. Student(s) competing "unattached" are not covered by institutional athletic insurance;
6. Student(s) must be made aware of the restriction of no athletic insurance;
7. The competition and participation must conform to NAIA amateur status regulations.
A worksheet has been developed to aid athletics departments in ensuring proper application of the unattached criteria.