This week in our new brief style, we are going to dive into when a student athlete can compete between the fall and spring terms. We will look at students who are graduating from their institution, incoming freshman, non-traditional students, and the ineligible student who is becoming eligible.
Kiko is a member of his NAIA school’s number one ranked men’s soccer team in the fall of 2017. Kiko is going to graduate at the end of the fall 2017 semester and has no plans to continue going to school after graduation. Kiko is only enrolled in the six hours he needs to graduate in the fall semester and the last date of the term is November 30th. Kiko’s soccer team has qualified for postseason play and seems a shoe-in for the national championship. The National Tournament starts on November 27, 2017, and finishes on December 2, 2017. Can Kiko play in the National Tournament?
Yes! Kiko would be eligible for the National Tournament because Article V, Section D, Item 4, states that a student who is eligible during the regular sport season and is still eligible at the end of the season can maintain eligibility for the NAIA postseason competition. Don’t be confused by the fact that he is only enrolled in six hours, because he would meet the graduating senior exception to the 12-hour enrollment rule.
Quinn has bounced around to a lot of different schools and has used nine terms of attendance but only three seasons of competition. Quinn transferred to her first NAIA institution for the fall of 2017 and meets the residency exception allowing her to compete immediately. Quinn is an exceptional basketball player and decided she would only go part-time in the fall of 2017 to save her last term of attendance for the spring of 2018. Her school’s fall semester ends on December 1, 2017, and the spring semester starts on January 18, 2018. Would Quinn be eligible to compete on December 1, 2017, if she meets all eligibility requirements for spring 2018?
No! Article V, Section D, Item 2, states that a student who is establishing residency is eligible for participation on the day following the close of a term. This means Quinn could not compete on December 1st, but she could participate on December 2nd. If you are wondering what day is the actual close of the term, you will need to look at your official school calendar. Also, Quinn could not practice with the team in the fall of 2017 because she would still be considered a prospective student-athlete because she has not identified with the school.
Kevin is an ambitious high school student who wants to graduate early at the end of the fall term from his high school and enroll at his NAIA institution and compete in the spring in baseball. His high school is going to let him walk in the winter graduation ceremony but Kevin has to complete one more class from his high school to actually receive his diploma. The class is an AP class from his new NAIA institution that is taught online. His NAIA institution will allow him to also take nine other credits through the college. When he completes his online class for AP credit, his high school will issue an updated transcript that will list his graduation date as June 1, 2018. Would Kevin be able to compete for his new NAIA school in the spring of 2018?
NO! Kevin would still be a prospective student because he would not be able to identify until he actually graduated from high school or the equivalent. In this instance, Kevin would not have graduated until the date on his final high school transcript, which was June 1, 2018. To take this a step further, Kevin could not even practice with the NAIA institution during the spring of 2018, because of Article V, Section B, Item 15. The bylaw states that a prospective student athlete cannot play or compete with an institution’s team. Kevin is still a prospective student because he has not identified with the NAIA institution. Now Kevin could actually practice with the team once he graduates from high school as long as he is enrolled in a full time class load for the summer or enrolled in 12 institutional credit hours for the following fall semester.
Kevin is disappointed by this decision and decides that he doesn’t want to go to college anymore and takes two years off. In the fall of 2020, he starts to get the itch to play baseball again. He enrolls in 12 institutional credit hours in the spring of 2021, in anticipation of playing baseball for the NAIA school in the same term. The fall 2020 term ends on December 1, 2020. When would Kevin be eligible to begin competing for his NAIA institution?
Kevin would be eligible on December 2, 2020, if he meets all initial eligibility requirements. Kevin would not be eligible to compete or practice with his team before that date based on Article V, Section B, Item 15, Exception 2. The exception states a prospective student athlete can practice between academic terms if the practice occurs during the team’s 24 week season. It also requires that the student be a high school graduate, which Kevin clearly is.
Article V, Section B, Item 15.
Prospective Student: An individual who has never identified or whose previous collegiate identification was with another collegiate institution. The individual remains a prospective student until the student identifies with an institution in accordance with Article V, Section B, Item 8.
Prospective students are not permitted to practice or compete with an institution’s team.
EXCEPTION 1: A prospective student may practice and compete with an institution’s team during the summer (May 16th-July 31st) if the student is a high school graduate (or the equivalent) and not identified with any other institution of higher learning, and:
1) Enrolled in a full-time class load, as defined by the institution, for the applicable summer term, or
2) Enrolled in at least 12 institutional credit hours for the immediately subsequent fall term.
Such practice activities and competitions are not considered to be a tryout.
EXCEPTION 2: A prospective student, who is a high school graduate (or the equivalent) and not identified with any other institution of higher learning, may practice with an institution’s team(s) prior to the start of the institution’s academic term, or between regular academic terms, if the practice activity occurs during the team’s 24-week season. Such practice activities are not considered to be a tryout.
Article V, Section D, Item 2.
With reference to establishing or reestablishing eligibility in the same institution, a student is eligible for athletics participation on the day following the close of a term, provided the student meets all eligibility requirements for the upcoming term and is properly certified as eligible.
Article V, Section D, Item 4.
A student who is eligible during the regular sport season for a particular sport and who is eligible at the end of the regular sport season shall retain eligibility in that particular sport for participation in NAIA postseason competition provided the student was in attendance the term immediately preceding the postseason competition.
Please tune in at noon central time on Tuesday, as Lendsey Thomson and Jared Shafer will dive into this scenario even further. Legislative Services has written about similar situations in the past and that brief can be found at this link.