Current State:

Seasons of competition are charged for participation in “elite-level” competition, as defined by the evaluative criteria.

The criteria restrict students who have competed in high-level experiences. However, the current approach also has a variety of drawbacks:

  • The criteria can result in students being charged for experiences that are not considered high-level by sport experts but do technically meet the criteria.
  • Evaluation of leagues must often rely on information provided by sources that often change once a decision is rendered, including league officials who may have a conflict of interest.
  • The criteria differ based on team vs. individual sports, leading to inequities in competitive opportunities for different student-athletes.
  • Reviews require a significant amount of time by eligibility center staff, the Competitive Experience Committee, and campus personnel.

When compared to other associations, the NAIA’s current rule is often more student-centered than those of the NCAA, leading to many students having eligibility available in the NAIA when they would not in the NCAA. The NJCAA has expressed interest in pursuing a model similar to that of the NAIA’s evaluative criteria, given their concerns that international students dominate their own championships. The committee agrees that, in theory, the current approach may be ideal. However, in application, it has limited gains for high costs.



Discontinue the use of the evaluative criteria to determine if any given league or event is chargeable. Instead, raise the standard to trigger charging seasons of competition to professional competition. Professional competition is to be defined as actual competition for a professional team/league or in professional events. It should not include other acts associated with professional teams/leagues such as coaching, signing a contract but never playing, or other amateurism considerations like receiving remuneration for appearance as a student-athlete, etc.

NOTE: Existing components of amateurism, including reinstatement, would continue to exist and be the responsibility of the NAIA institution.



To provide clarity and simplify the application of non-collegiate seasons of competition. To raise the standard by which students are charged seasons, thereby allowing current and prospective student-athletes to compete somewhat more freely in outside competition.


Purpose Statements this supports:

  • Simplification and transparency.
  • Ease of application.
  • Strengthen recruitment opportunities for NAIA institutions against NCAA DII and DIII institutions.
  • Support student recruitment, retention, enrollment,  graduation rates, and student experience.
  • Maintain reasonable limitations based on competitive experience.

1 Response » to “Raise the Standard for Outside Competitive Experience”

  1. Karen Graves says:

    I agree with these proposed changes. Part of the problem is that student-athletes at Junior College or overseas are not being advised well, so when they transfer or first identify at an NAIA institution, they have already played in at elite-level and did not know that it could affect his/her eligibility.

    The student-athletes are following the advise of a coach or school administrator and then finding out when they get to the NAIA institution that it was the wrong advise and are now ineligible. It punishes the student-athlete.

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