New Legislation: Transfer Release

New Legislation: Transfer Release

At the 2018 NAIA National Convention our membership voted on new legislation. Legislative Services is going to break down some of the more substantial changes in our legislative briefs over the next few months. This is the third brief in the new legislation line and a link to the previous briefs is below. Today we are discussing the changes to the transfer residency requirement found in Article V, Section G, Item 1. The entire change of the bylaw is below and the underlined portions indicate the new language.

The following brief discusses the new exception as it pertains to requesting a written release for a transfer student-athlete. Along with releases, we understand that NAIA institutions provide tracers for the previous institution to fill out. Several of our members have asked for help with their tracer forms and while you do not have to use our tracer form, it would be encouraged to use similar language. That tracer can be found here. This tracer will also help you deal with those students who might have been dismissed/expelled/suspended at their previous institution. We wrote a brief on this topic this year and it can be found right here. If you have any questions about tracer forms and how you could improve your on-campus version, do not hesitate to call or email Legislative Services.

New Legislation Briefs:


Article V, Section G, Item 1.

  1.     student who has participated in an intercollegiate contest at the immediately previous four-year institution and then transfers to an NAIA member institution shall be required to be in residence for a period of 16 calendar weeks before being eligible for the sport(s) previously participated in at the four-year institution.


A student shall have the 16 calendar weeks residency requirement waived for participation in that same sport provided the student has a cumulative minimum overall GPA of 2.000 (on a 4.000 scale) from all previously attended institutions of higher learning and receives a written release from the athletics director, assistant or associate athletics director, or compliance officer at the immediately previous four-year institution.

EXCEPTION 1: If a student’s NAIA school requests a written release from the student’s previous four-year institution and the previous institution does not respond to the request within 30 days, the written release will be deemed automatically approved, provided the NAIA institution can produce the prescribed written documentation showing a transfer release was requested. To satisfy this requirement, the NAIA institution’s request must be made via email and directed to the previous four-year institution’s athletics director, associate athletics director and/or compliance officer, including as many of these individuals as possible.

EXCEPTION 2: A student who has completed all academic requirements for graduation and who has transferred to an NAIA institution and enrolled in a graduate program, professional school or fifth-year, post baccalaureate degree teacher education program will not be subject to the residency requirement. A graduate transfer student can compete immediately at the new institution, and there is not a release or minimum GPA required, pursuant to any applicable conference rules.

Key points of this legislation:

  • Effective August 1, 2018.
  • This bylaw change is not retroactive. This means any releases requested prior to August 1, 2018, would not be subject to this exception.
  • The request must be made via email.
  • The request must be addressed to the athletics director, associate athletics director, and/or compliance officer.
    • Include as many of these people as possible.
  • The requester does not have to guarantee receipt.
  • The 30 days start at the time of sending.
  • There is not a standard form or wording as long as the request is clear.
  • 30 days indicates 30 calendar days.
  • Once the 30th day has expired, the release is deemed granted (pursuant to the bylaw), regardless of future communication from the previous institution.
  • You should keep a copy of the request for future reference.


Case Studies

*Assume all schools are NAIA institutions unless otherwise noted.

Scenario 1:

Stan is transferring from a four-year institution, where he competed, to Mighty University (MU). MU’s athletic director sends a transfer release request via email to Stan’s previous AD, assistant AD, and compliance officer on August 2, 2018. Stan’s previous AD responds and denies the request on September 13, 2018. Will Stan have to sit residency if he has above a 2.0 gpa?

Answer 1:

No. Once the 30 calendar days have elapsed without a response, then the release is deemed granted. Regardless of the school's delayed response, the NAIA institution may move forward with the understanding that the release has been "granted" after the 30th day.

Scenario 2:

Larry wants to transfer to your school after being the player of the year in the NAIA the previous year. When you send the email requesting the release you misspell the email address. The previous school never gets word of the requested release and discover later that their former player is competing immediately. When they bring their concern to the national office and the incorrect email address is discovered, will your institution be in violation for allowing a student to compete without serving residency?

Answer 2:

Yes, it is your institution's responsibility to ensure the written release is properly sent to all authorities and misspelling does not excuse the responsibility of your institution. In this case, a release was never granted and the student should have served residency. 

Scenario 3:

DJ is leaving his previous four-year institution, where he competed in football, with a 1.999 gpa and wants to transfer to your institution. You, as the AD, properly request a release on August 2, 2018, and DJ’s previous AD responds immediately and grants the release. Does DJ have to serve residency?

Answer 3:

YES! In order to not have to serve residency, the student has to have a release AND a 2.000 gpa. Since DJ did not have a 2.000 he would not be eligible for the exception.


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