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2017-2018 NAIA Handbook Updates and Tips

August 07, 2017
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August 1st marks the beginning of the academic year per the NAIA bylaws and with that the NAIA National Office has published the 32nd edition of the Official & Policy Handbook. Legislative Services thought it would be a good time to provide a brief update on the newest edition of our handbook and tips to help you get the most out of the Handbook.

The Handbook is broken into three major areas, the Constitution, Bylaws, and Policies. Each section provides valuable information regarding the NAIA’s governing principles. The bylaws and policies are the most used sections and provide informative content for our membership, especially as we gear up for the start of the new year.

The following are a few tips on what to look for as you begin to use the new NAIA Handbook.

Where to Find the Handbook:

The Official & Policy Handbook can be located by going to or by following this link. You will notice at the bottom of the page for the Official & Policy Handbook that there are links to previous NAIA handbooks. This is helpful as previous bylaws may be applicable to a student’s eligibility and certification. For example, at the 2017 National Convention, the membership voted to amend the unattached criteria found in Article V, Section B, Item 18, Exception 3. The new amendment does not retroactively change the previous application of the bylaw for students who competed as unattached in prior years. Meaning, if a student has competed unattached during the 2016-2017 academic years or prior, the previous bylaws will be applicable in certifying the student’s eligibility. It is standard practice that a subsequent rule change through the bylaw amendment process does not make a previous, correct application of the rule suddenly invalid. Therefore, it is important to be able to access previous handbooks. 

Searching for New Information

There are two ways to search for specific information in the Handbook; through the table of contents or through the index in the back of the handbook. This year we did not include the large table of contents that covered the entire handbook.  However, we did keep the table of contents for each individual section. If you want to search for a more specific word or term, then you might want to use the index at the back of the book. This year we focused on adding additional terms to the index that we heard from the membership are important terms to reference. For instance, “administrative error” is now highlighted in the index and can now be found on page 63. The handbook is also compatible with the search function on your computer, if that is your preferred access point.  

New Bylaw Amendments

As you begin to review the new Handbook, you will see sentences or sections that are underlined. This signifies that the specific words, sentences, or sections are new to that year’s handbook through the constitution and bylaw amendments that were passed at the 2017 National Convention. For example, Article VIII, the article pertaining to the new drug testing procedures, is entirely new for the 2017-2018 academic year. Therefore, the entire article is underlined. All constitution and bylaw amendments that were passed at the previous convention will be underlined in this manner. Additionally, you will find at the beginning of the handbook on page three a recap of all constitution and bylaw amendments passed as well as the date in which the amendments will go into effect.

Casebook Examples

If you have questions over a certain bylaw and how it applies to a specific situation, a great place to start is with the casebook examples. Casebook examples are official interpretations provided by the National Eligibility Committee (NEC) and can be used as a guide in interpreting the bylaws. The examples provide you with real world examples of these rules in action. This year, the NEC has approved 19 additional casebook examples that have been included in the bylaws. 

Useful Information in the Policies Section

Towards the back of the Handbook, you will find policies for each of our four councils. The policies provide rules specific to the purview of each council. For example, under the Council of President’s policy, you will find the policy pertaining to financial aid limits for each sport and how to calculate academic exemptions. Under the Council for Faculty Athletic Representatives, you will find information regarding who needs an Eligibility Center decision and those that may qualify for exemptions. In addition to COP policy and CFAR policy, there are two additional councils with their own respective policies. The National Administrative Council regulates a wide breadth of issues regarding sport specific rules and championships, The Council for Student Athletes oversees Champions of Character program and creates policy that looks out of for the best interest of the student athletes.

Feel free to answer the question at the bottom of the page to give us feedback on what you learned from today's brief.

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