Article V, Section L – Non-NAIA Institutions’ Ability to Request a Medical Hardship or an Exception to a Standard Rule

Bylaw: Article V, Section L

“In exceptional cases, where extenuating circumstances exist, an institution may request an exceptional ruling to a standard rule.”

Bylaw: Article V, Section M, Item 1-2

“1. A hardship request is a request for an exception to the season of competition regulation. Hardships deal only with seasons of competition. 2. All hardship requests must meet the following criteria:

  1. They must involve an injury or illness which is beyond the control of the student or coach and which incapacitates the student from competing further during the sport season in question as verified by the attending physician (i.e. M.D. or D.O.) who must have examined the student during the sport season in question.
  2. The student involved shall not have participated in more contests or dates, excluding scrimmages, in the affected sport during the sports season than those listed for the sport… [specific exceptions follow].
  3. Hardships cannot be requested for students who are incapacitated in the last regular-season contest or postseason competition.
  4. All applicable information must appear on the completed certificate. This certificate, along with a current transcript, is to be sent to the National Office for processing.
  5. Participation by a student after being examined by a physician for the incapacitating injury or illness and before receiving written medical clearance shall nullify hardship considerations.”

Interpretation

The NEC has determined non-NAIA members may request a medical hardship for situations when a student sustained a season-ending injury or illness while competing for an NAIA institution. However, only current NAIA members may request an exception to a standard rule.

Background and Intent

Institutions that do not hold NAIA membership may request a medical hardship on behalf of a student who represented an NAIA institution in competition and sustained a season-ending injury. This request may occur even if the student is no longer with an NAIA institution and may be competing for an outside athletic associatiton. The NEC has determined that while it is technically an exception to the standard rule of charging a season of competition for representing an institution in competition, a medical hardship is a process approved by the membership and with guidelines and requirements standardized by rule. In granting a medical hardship, we are essentially applying a standard rule to a student, simply giving the individual student access to the NAIA rule governing how his or her competition should be treated.

However, this interpretation regarding non-NAIA institutions does not apply to the Exception to a Standard Rule procedure. In these instances, an institution is specifically requesting that the standard NAIA rule be set aside and an exception be permitted in light of unusual extenuating circumstances. There are not specific parameters or guidelines that clearly dictate when an exception is warranted; rather, the NEC has sole discretion. Therefore, there is no argument that a student has an undeniable right to an exception in these such instances, or that an exception can be automatically applied to a given scenario. For this reason, the ability to request an exception is an opportunity granted only to NAIA institutions. Non-NAIA institutions do not have standing to request an exception to a standard rule.

Examples

Example #1: A student competed at a junior college where she sustained a season-ending injury, but a medical hardship was never requested from the NJCAA. The student has now transferred to an NAIA institution and wishes to regain the season. The student’s NAIA institution can request a medical hardship from the NAIA, assuming the injury situation satisfies all NAIA guidelines for a medical hardship. If the injury does not satisfy NAIA medical hardship requirements, the student has the option to try to receive a medical hardship from the NJCAA. If a medical hardship is awarded by the NJCAA, the NAIA will honor it at face value.

Example #2: A student competed at an NAIA institution where he sustained a season-ending injury. The student has continued to be enrolled at the same institution, but the institution is no longer an NAIA member. Despite that fact, the institution may still request a medical hardship from the NAIA, assuming the injury situation satisfies all NAIA guidelines for a medical hardship.

Example #3: A student competed at an NAIA institution where he sustained a season-ending injury. The student then transferred to a non-NAIA institution. Despite not being an NAIA member, the student’s new institution may still request a medical hardship from the NAIA, assuming the injury situation satisfies all NAIA guidelines for a medical hardship. This is because the medical hardship is a proper application of NAIA rules, an opportunity to which the student was entitled at the time of the injury and for the duration of his eligibility.

 

Related Bylaws

Article V, Section M, Item 2

 

Related Interpretations

Type of Doctors Considered in Requests for an Exception

 

NEC Interp – Creation date November 2015