Scheduling Rules for Coaches
Each varsity sport is limited to a specific number of games, contests or playing dates. Here are some things coaches need to remember when setting up their team’s competition schedule.
- NAIA Contest Limits
- Contests are counted on a team basis, and participation by as few as one student counts toward a team’s limit. (Exception: Indoor track and field and outdoor track and field)
- Junior varsity and freshman teams are limited to competing in no more than the stated number of allowable varsity contests.
- Individual students may not participate in a total number of contests in an academic year at any level, varsity, junior varsity or freshman, that exceeds the maximum number of varsity games, contests or playing dates. (Exception: Basketball and Football)
What contests count toward statistics?
For games to be considered countable (i.e. included in statistics, won-loss records, and coaching records), all of the following must be true:
- The institution must meet one of the following:
- Accredited by one of the six regional accrediting bodies in the U.S. (Search for accreditation),
- Hold membership in the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada, or
- Hold membership in the National Christian College Athletic Association.
- The institution must be a four-year degree-granting institution.
- The opponent must be considered a varsity sport as defined by NAIA Bylaws.
What is a scrimmage?
A scrimmage is competition against competitors not identified with the institution when (a) the competition is not listed or is noted as a scrimmage on the institutional schedule, and (b) no scores or statistics are reported by either institution.
Teams in the sports of baseball, basketball, soccer, softball and volleyball may schedule up to two scrimmage dates in addition to the maximum aloowable varsity games, contests or playing dates.
Tennis and football teams may schedule one scrimmage date in addition to the maximum allowable varsity games, contests or playing dates.
Scrimmages are not allowed in cross country, golf, swimming and diving, indoor and outdoor track and field and wrestling.
Students must be certified as eligible prior to participating in a scrimmage. Seasons of competition will not be charged to students who participate only in scrimmages.
What is an exhibition?
An exhibition is a competition against competitors not identified with the institution when (a) the competition does not meet the definition of a scrimmage, (b) the competition is noted as an exhibition on the institutional schedule and (c) the competition is against a non-NAIA opponent.
An institution is allowed one exhibition competition per season in the sports of baseball, cross country, golf, soccer, softball, swimming and diving, tennis, indoor and outdoor track and field, volleyball and wrestling. This exhibition competition will count as one varsity game, contest or playing date.
Exhibition competition is not allowed in the sport of football.
Basketball teams may schedule one or more exhibition competitions per season so long as the total number of games, exhibitions and scrimmages does not exceed 32 total competitions. (For more information on basketball scheduling see the 10/24/2013 Legislative Brief: Basketball Scheduling Limits.)
Students must be certified as eligible prior to participating in an exhibition. A student is charged a season of competition for participating in an exhibition competition.
What about international competition?
A maximum of two contests against teams from foreign countries (excluding Canada and Mexico) played in the United States and/or Canada/Mexico is permitted without counting against the frequency of play limits.
International competition held in a foreign country (except Canada and Mexico) is permitted for teams and individuals representing an institution. The following rules apply:
- Individual students representing their institutions must be eligible according to NAIA rules and standards (and conference, if applicable).
- International play does not affect seasons of competition.
- Contests do not apply to a team’s maximum number of varsity games, contests or playing dates.
- The NAIA shall be notified prior to institutional sponsored international participation (Notification Form).