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International Travel and Mission Trips - FAQs

June 05, 2014
By NAIA National Office

**Legislative Services has noted some updates below based on recent legislation. (3.6.2018)

International competition and mission trips are a great opportunity for both institutions and student-athletes. Competition can help increase the exposure of an institution and the NAIA in other countries. For a student-athlete, it provides a new experience that expands his or her own world view. Here are a few answers to questions that may arise when dealing with international travel and mission trips.

Team Travel:

Q:      Does the NAIA restrict when a team can travel and compete internationally?
A:      No. Teams can compete internationally anytime during the calendar year. However, rules and regulations regarding international play can change depending on when the competition takes place.

Q:      Does international competition count toward frequency of play limits?
A:      No. Contests held in a foreign country (except Canada and Mexico) will not count toward the playing limitation.

Q:      Does practice for foreign competition and the actual contest count as part of a team’s 24-week season?
A:      No. The NAIA does not regulate summer participation, international practice, or competitions between May 16th and July 31st. These events do not count toward a team’s scheduling limits or its 24-week season. International practice and/or competition between August 1st and May 15th will count toward a team’s 24 week season.

Q:      Do statistics for games held overseas count?
A:      No. Overseas competition does not count toward playing limits, and therefore will not count toward win-loss records or personal player statistics.

Q:      Do student-athletes need to be certified eligible to participate in international competition?
A:      Yes. Student-athletes must be certified as eligible before any competition between August 1st and May 15th. However, non-certified students can travel and practice with a team regardless of eligibility status.

Q:     Can incoming freshmen or transfer students participate in international competition over the summer (between May 16th and July 31st)?
A:      **Yes if they have graduated from high school (or the equivalent); have an eligibility center determination of eligible; are enrolled in a full course load in the summer or enrolled in 12 institutional credit hours in the fall; and are certified as eligible through the ECP.  (This was updated on 3.6.18).              

Q:      What expenses can the institution cover for international travel?
A:      The institution can cover the cost of food, transportation, housing, and other expenses related to the competition. The cost of visiting any attractions, tours, or souvenirs must be paid for by the student-athletes. All expenses should be documented and itemized.

Q:     Can student-athletes and the team fundraise to cover some of the costs of travel?
A:      Yes. As long as all funds are given to the institution or a third party organizer who then distributes the funds. No funds can be given directly to students unless it is from their immediate family or guardian.

Q:      Does the NAIA national office need to be notified of international competition?
A:      Yes. No matter what time of year the competition takes place, the NAIA national office needs to be notified in advance of the trip. A coach can submit the International Competition Notification form on the NAIA website as notification (link below).

Individual Travel:

Q:      How would a student-athlete participating in athletic contests as part of a mission trip, not as part of the institution’s team, affect the eligibility of the student-athlete?
A:      As long as the student-athlete maintains full-time enrollment before and after the international competition and participates as an unattached student-athlete, international competition will not affect eligibility.

           ** The unattached criteria has changed since this brief was published, please make sure your student athlete will meet the exception. 

Q:     What if the student-athlete is a part-time student?
A:     If the student-athlete is a part-time student or has not been charged a season of competition already, the competition may cause the student to be charged as participating in possible competitive experience. A student-athlete should talk with the faculty athletics representative on campus or contact the national office to ensure their individual travel has no effect on eligibility.

Q:     Can an individual student fundraise to cover the cost of a mission trip or individual international competition?
A:      Yes. As long as the donations are given to a third party organization. The student-athlete can accept funds from the organization that coordinates the trip as long as the funds are available to everyone traveling in the group. No donations can be given directly to the student-athlete unless it is from their immediate family or guardian.

Q:      Do NAIA amateur rules still apply to international competition?
A:      Yes. Regardless of the time of year a competition takes place, or where it takes place, amateur rules always apply. A student-athlete cannot accept a cash, or cash-redeemable, prize or award at any time. The student-athlete can only have food, housing, and transportation paid for from the immediately previous city to the competition site. All expenses must be itemized and documented.

Q:      Does the NAIA national office need to be notified of individual international competition?
A:      Yes, if the student is representing the institution in the international competition. The NAIA national office needs to be notified in advance of the trip through submittal of the International Competition Notification on the NAIA website.

International Competition Notification form