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Case Study: Additional Spring Soccer Dates

Legislative Services are continuing to update the interpretation library and one of our newest interpretations is currently a hot topic on our hotlines. You can find the interpretation here as well as the entire collection of published interpretations from the National Eligibility Committee. Soccer is allowed to compete on three additional dates after the fall term has concluded. These contests must be played on non-scheduled class dates according to the institution’s academic calendar.

As always, we want to bring you some briefs in the past that have touched on this topic.

  • We have only touched on this specific topic once and it was over five years ago. This brief contains a discussion of the unattached rule as well, but it should be noted that the requirements that are listed are no longer correct. If you have questions on unattached please read some of our more recent briefs on the topic.
  • This second brief discusses scheduling in more general terms, and is an excellent reference when scheduling your full slate of games.
  • This brief is from way back in 2013 but it does an excellent job of explaining the difference between games, exhibitions, and scrimmages. 

Bylaw: Article I, Section G, Item 1.

For the sport of soccer, the frequency of play limits state: “18 games played at any time during the sport season. Three additional dates to be played only after the fall term has concluded. The three additional dates may be played only during weekends and other nonscheduled class dates, according to the academic calendar.”

Interpretation

The sport of soccer has an 18-game frequency of play limit, plus two additional scrimmage dates, all of which can be used at any time during a team’s 24-week season. The team determines exactly when the 24-week season applies.

As it relates to the 18 games, the part of the bylaw that states “during the sport season” should not be interepreted to mean that this limit applies to the fall season only. The NAIA does not limit games, contests, or dates to the sport season, but rather the frequency of play limit applies throughout a team’s 24-week season to be used however and whenever the team decides.

Unlike the 18 games and two scrimmage dates to be used at anytime throughout the 24-week season, the wording describing the three additional dates is drawing the distinction in that these dates are limited to a particular time-frame (“to be played only after the fall term has concluded”).

The overall frequency of play includes 18 games + 2 additional varsity scrimmages (to be conducted at any time during the 24-week season) + 3 dates (to be conducted after the fall term has concluded).

Application

The three additional spring dates do not have to be scrimmages necessarily, although the vast majority of teams use the dates in this way and refer to it that way. If an institution wanted to conduct a game on one of these spring dates because it wanted to sell tickets, promote the game and score to market the upcoming fall season, etc., that is permissible. The game would count as one of the additional spring dates for frequency of play purposes, but despite being a game could not count towards stats, W/L, etc.

Case Studies

*Assume all schools are NAIA institutions unless otherwise noted. Also, assume that all students have an eligible determination from the Eligibility Center unless otherwise noted.

Scenario 1:

White College wants to schedule a soccer exhibition against an NCAA team on Monday, April 1, 2019. White College’s spring break is scheduled from April 1 – April 5, according to the institution’s official calendar, and no classes are held during this time. White College soccer played 14 games in the fall and two scrimmages. Would this be allowable under this bylaw?

Answer 1:

Yes! This game is clearly after the fall term and would be on a non-scheduled class date. Therefore, it would fit Article I, Section G, Item 1. It would not matter if the NCAA school has classes scheduled on that date as our rules only apply to NAIA schools.

Scenario 2:

Coffee College’s soccer team played 18 games in the fall term and no scrimmages. How many dates could they schedule in the spring semester?

Answer 2:

Coffee could schedule five dates in the spring with two of those dates being scrimmages since they did not use any of their scrimmages in the fall. Had Coffee used their two scrimmages in the fall then they could only have scheduled the three additional dates.   

Scenario 3, Continuation of Scenario 2:

Is there a limit to how many scrimmages Coffee could play on a particular date in the spring?

Answer 3:

No! The team could play multiple scrimmages on a single date as long as the contests meet the scrimmage definition.

Scenario 4:

Black University’s soccer team played 18 games in the fall and two scrimmages. The soccer team now wants to schedule the three additional dates for the spring semester. Can they schedule games on these three dates, promote the game, sell tickets, and report the scores and statistics?

Answer 4:

Yes! Black University could utilize their three additional dates in the spring. The stats and wins or losses from these games would not revert back to the previous sport season, but it would allow the school to publish the information from the games and not be in violation. Remember, no NAIA school can post any scores or stats from a scrimmage regardless of when it takes place. If this does happen then it would automatically not meet the scrimmage definition and the school would be opening themselves up to a potential violation.

Scenario 5:

Cutter College’s official institutional calendar has Wednesday April 3, 2019, scheduled as a faculty work day with no classes scheduled during the day. However, all evening and night classes are scheduled to meet like normal. Could Cutter College schedule one of their additional dates on Wednesday, April 3, 2019, if they played at 10:00 am?

Answer 5:

No, as there are still scheduled classes on this date. It doesn’t matter if the game is scheduled during a portion of the day when no classes are being held. The same would be true if soccer students didn’t have any scheduled classes on that day.

 

Please join Legislative Services at noon central on Tuesday for Facebook live, where Legislative Services will discuss this topic in more detail.

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