When a conference, A.I.I., or unaffiliated grouping qualifying competition occurs, any practice activities occurring during the week(s) of the competition will be exempt. Once teams are selected for NAIA national championship competition, institutions not selected must cease practice activities or comply thereafter with the restrictions of the 24-week rule. Any regular season or non-qualifying events occurring during this time must be counted towards the team’s frequency of play limits, even if the week is exempt from the 24-week season due to this exception.
Bylaw: Article I, Section H, Item 5
“Each sport shall have a maximum 24-week practice and competition season established by each member institution. Frequency of play, practice and scheduling policies shall be applied only during the period of August 1 to May 15. Frequency of play, practice, and scheduling outside of this period is governed by each member institution and will not be regulated by the NAIA… As an exception, a team participating in NAIA-approved postseason shall not count practice activities towards the team’s 24-week season, as described below… [specific exceptions follow]”
Individual conference championships that are not considered approved postseason are not exempt from the 24-week season and the scheduling limits that apply to the team. Only certified conference team championships that provide automatic bids to an NAIA-approved postseason championship will be exempt from the scheduling limits and 24-week season per NAIA bylaw Article I, Section H, Item 1.
A team cannot foresee if it will qualify for postseason or how successful it will be in the postseason, whether that is a conference championship or national championship, as in most cases there is limited participation in these postseason events. Therefore, the team should not have to reserve a portion of its 24-week season or contests in order to ensure it is able to participate and not create a violation.
However, if the conference holds a tournament or event that is not used as qualification towards the national championship, the school should be able to plan for its participation in that event, just like any other regular season tournament. For that reason, conference tournaments or meets that are not qualifiers to the national championship are not considered “approved postseason” and are not exempt form the 24-week season.
Example #1: ABC Conference has one automatic bid to the national championship for its six volleyball teams, and awards the bid to the team with the best regular season record. The conference holds an ABC Conference Volleyball Tournament in late October, but all six teams are invited and the winner of the tournament does not receive any consideration for national championship qualification that is any different than winning any other regular season tournament. Therefore, this is not considered a postseason tournament, and must be counted towards each team’s frequency of play limits and 24-week season.
Example #2: ABC Conference hosts an ABC Conference Outdoor Track and Field Meet in April. Outdoor track and field athletes do not receive any special consideration in qualifying for the national championship meet that is any different than participating in any other regular season meet. Therefore, this is not considered approved postseason, and must be counted towards each team’s frequency of play limits and 24-week season.
Article I, Section H, Item 1
Article I, Section H, Item 6
NEC Interp – Creation date unknown. Current as of: April 2016