Case Study: Process for Amending the Bylaws

Case Study: Process for Amending the Bylaws

There is a common misconception that the NAIA National Office creates our rules and bylaws. This is not true, the bylaws are created by our membership. The National Office’s role is merely to facilitate the process. Article XI of the NAIA’s constitution lays out the process for proposing amendments and what happens in the 90 days between the proposal and the convention’s voting meeting. An amendment must be sponsored by an authorized NAIA council, an NAIA standing committee, an NAIA association, or an affiliated conference and must be submitted to the NAIA national office 90 days prior to the annual meeting in writing. An NAIA council and standing committee can submit a proposal without a co-sponsor but a conference or an association must have a co-sponsor. Lastly, coaches associations cannot be co-sponsors with other coaches associations.

Article I, Section Z of the handbook expands on Article XI of the constitution. 30 days out from the annual meeting all proposed changes will be published online for the review of the membership as a whole. Legislative Services along with the Constitution and Bylaws committee work to vet each proposal and to create FAQs to help the membership understand the implications of each proposal. The proposals will be read on the floor of the convention with the opinion of the constitution and bylaws committee on each potential change. Then at the annual meeting at the national convention each member institution’s voting delegate will have the ability vote on each amendment. One school = one vote.

Often in the months leading up to the convention Legislative Services receives proposals that are not bylaw amendments but actually sport motions. A sport motion is something that affects the specific rules of the sport in question. Sport rules are not found in our handbook. A proper bylaw amendment proposal is something that either changes an existing bylaw or creates a new bylaw that will live in our handbook. Sport motions are proposed at each sport’s coaches meetings and is voted on by the coaches of said sport. Our championship managers help facilitate that process.

We have written about bylaw proposal procedure a few years ago, and that brief can be found here. This brief goes into more depth on the process that occurs at the national convention and what happens after the voting takes place.

For this week’s case study we are going to focus on who can submit amendment proposals and the difference between sport motions and bylaw amendments. Please continue reading below.


Case Studies

*Assume all schools are NAIA institutions unless otherwise noted.

Scenario 1:

Mario is the head baseball coach at Duck University and wants to increase the frequency of play limit for baseball from 55 to 60 games. Would this be a sport motion of a bylaw amendment?

Answer 1:

This is a bylaw amendment! Frequency of play limits are found in Article I, Section G, Item 1, thus Mario is seeking to change a bylaw. Even though this proposal would only affect one sport, if approved, it would not qualify as a sport motion because frequency of play limits are not found in the sport rules.

Scenario 2:

Mario wants to proceed with this bylaw amendment proposal and has gotten the baseball coaches association to sponsor the bill. Mario is now looking for a co-sponsor and has convinced the softball coaches association to be the co-sponsor. Are two coaches associations allowed to be co-sponsors?

Answer 2: 

No, this is specifically prohibited in both Article XI of the constitution and Article I, Section Z of the bylaws. Mario would have to find a council, a standing committee, or conference to co-sponsor his proposal.

Scenario 3: 

Julia is an FAR and is a member of the National Eligibility Committee, a standing committee. Julia and the NEC want to propose an amendment to amateurism with an eye on making it more open to international soccer players. Would this be a bylaw amendment or a sport motion? Also, would Julia and the NEC need a co-sponsor?

Answer 3:

This would be a bylaw amendment as amateurism is found in Article VII of the handbook. Julia and the NEC would NOT need a co-sponsor as Article XI of the constitution states that a standing committee can bring bylaw amendment proposals on their own without a co-sponsor.

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