New Legislation: Financial Assistance, Pt. 3

New Legislation: Financial Assistance, Pt. 3

Legislative Services is going to spend the next few months writing briefs on the new legislation that was passed at the 2019 convention. You can find all of the changes here. This group of three briefs are going to focus on the changes to the financial assistance bylaw found in Article II, Section B. The entire bylaw with the changes can be found in the above link, but this week we are focusing only on Item 3: Financial Benefits. 

The portions that are highlighted in yellow are changes proposed prior to the convention. The green highlights are friendly changes to the language that was made at convention. Lastly, the words and terms that are crossed out are what was stricken from the previous version of this bylaw.

You can find part 1 of this brief here and part 2 here.





Since this brief is only focusing on Item 2 of Article II, Section B, that is all that we have posted below. If you would like to see the entire bylaw change, please go here.


3. Financial Benefits

Financial benefits in money or in kind is unrestricted when provided by a prospective or enrolled student’s immediate family or from those on whom they are legally dependent. Immediate family is defined as a spouse, parent, grandparent, sibling, child, stepparent, stepsibling, stepchild and/or host family.

A prospective or enrolled student-athlete may receive financial benefits from other individuals, including but not limited to institutional and club coaches, host families, faculty members and friends. Such individuals may provide occasional meals, transportation, entertainment, gifts or personal fundraisers. Benefits received unrelated to athletics or status as a student-athlete are permissible. The value of such benefits must not exceed $1,000 per the institution’s fiscal year from all sources combined. Any expenses in excess of $1,000 must be reimbursed by the student at fair market value. Providing cash or preloaded debit cards is strictly prohibited. Ultimate responsibility for applying this regulation and tracking students’ financial benefits rests with the institution.


EXCEPTION 1: An institution may pay for necessary medical and dental expenses incidental to a student-athlete’s participation in intercollegiate athletics at the member institution.


EXCEPTION 2: An institution, affiliated conference, or the national office may provide actual and necessary expenses associated with attendance at a student-athlete advisory committee or student-athlete leadership meeting or activity, so long as the meeting or activity is sponsored by the institution, affiliated conference or national office. Such costs may be paid directly to the service provider or as reimbursement to the student-athlete, and allowable expenses may include but are not limited to cost of travel, meals, lodging, awards and personal gifts or apparel (in accordance with Bylaws Article VII, Section C).


EXCEPTION 3: An institutional representative or authorized booster, as approved by the institution, may provide an occasional meal for a student-athlete(s), not to exceed twice per month unless approved by the institution’s athletics director. The meal’s cost must not exceed the institution’s standard per diem amount for a student-athlete or $30 in value per person, whichever is higher.


EXCEPTION 41: In cases of a natural disaster or emergency, an institution may provide financial assistance to a prospective or enrolled student-athlete(s) in money or in kind provided the institution’s established financial assistance process or distribution method is followed, and any such assistance is available to the general student body. Aa third party relief organization (e.g. Red Cross, United Way, local community organization, etc.) or other first responders may also provide assistance in money or in kind provided any such assistance is available to all individuals affected by the disaster or emergency.


This does not include or restrict any financial benefits earned on the basis of employment or payment for actual services rendered.

Any financial benefits or recognized awards received through any athletic participation shall be subject to NAIA Bylaws Article VII, and are not subject to the financial assistance limitations described here.

All donations to the general athletics program and/or the athletics scholarship fund by outside organizations shall be deposited in an institutional fund and be administered by appropriate institutional committees under the control of the chief executive officer.


This regulation regarding maximum financial aid to a student-athlete is not intended to place pressure on any member institution to increase its program to this level. This regulation is made to protect the NAIA from overly ambitious programs and to help protect the amateur status of student-athletes.




Article II, Section B, Item 3

Item 3 of Article II, Section B is a continuation of the sponsors’ intent to bring our financial assistance bylaw more in alignment with what is actually happening on campus. For example, under the old rule it was technically illegal for a student athlete to receive gifts of any kind from their significant other. Common sense tells us that this should not be a violation and this section of the bylaw makes this now abundantly clear. This bylaw also expands who can provide direct financial assistance to an athlete. The definition of immediate family is now included in the bylaw and allows for any of those people listed to help an athlete without limits. One other big change in this bylaw is the added language, “Benefits received unrelated to athletics or status as a student-athlete are permissible.” This opens the door for athletes to receive benefits unrelated to athletics without fear of violating an NAIA bylaw.


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:

Idris goes to Luther University (LU) to play baseball. Luther University utilizes host families for some of their international students and with Idris being from London, LU sets him up with a host family. Idris is enrolled in a math class that requires students have a graphing calculator, which Idris cannot afford. Can his host family pay for his calculator?

Answer 1:

Yes! This is allowed under Article II, Section B, Item 3, in two different spots. The first place that allows this is the first paragraph where it makes clear that a host family can provide anything to their hostee. It is also allowed because of the language stating, “Benefits received unrelated to athletics or status as a student-athlete are permissible.” Here this calculator is not related to athletics or Idris’ status as a student athlete and thus can be provided by anyone.

Scenario 2:

Tom is a student-athlete at Wild West College (WWC) on the baseball team. Tom’s dad suddenly suffers a stroke back in Tom’s hometown, a few hours from WWC. Tom goes to see the baseball coach to relay the news and to tell the coach that he is going to go home for a few days. Tom tells the coach that he can’t afford the trip home and his coach gives him a $100 bill to cover expenses. Is this allowed?

Answer 2:

No! The institution is never allowed to provide cash or the equivalent to student-athletes. This would be a violation of this bylaw and would warrant a self-report from WWC.

Scenario 3 (Continuation of Scenario 2):

What if Tom went to his philosophy professor and told her the same thing he told his baseball coach. The professor offers to follow Tom to the gas station and fill up his car so that he can get home to his dad. The professor uses her credit card but does not give Tom any cash. Is this allowed?

Answer 3:

Yes! The second paragraph of Item 3 clearly states that faculty members can provide occasional transportation for prospective or identified students. Here since the professor merely paid for the gas for the student to get home, this would be allowed per this bylaw.

Scenario 4:

Moses is a basketball player at Middle College and recently wrecked his car to the point that it is no longer drivable. Moses cannot afford the repairs and starts a GoFundMe account seeking assistance with the cost or repairs. Moses gets donations from people outside of his immediate family. Is he allowed to accept the funds from his GoFundMe page?

Answer 4:

No! Moses cannot do a personal fundraiser on his own as he cannot receive cash or the equivalent from anyone outside of his immediate family. Therefore, money that he receives through the personal fundraiser that is not from his immediate family would trigger a violation.

Scenario 5 (Similar to Scenario 4):

What if Moses brother starts the page and collects the donations? Would he be able to share the proceeds from the personal fundraiser with Moses?

Answer 5:

Yes! This is specifically allowed in the second paragraph of Item 3, which states in relevant part, “individuals may provide personal fundraisers.” Therefore this would be allowed and Moses could receive the money from his brother since he is Moses’ immediate family.  


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