Elite Level Competition – Gender Specific Competition

Bylaw: Article V, Section B, Item 19

“b. Participation in any elite-level competition on or after the first day of the thirteenth month following high school graduation. The NAIA shall count seasons of competition based on non-collegiate participation charged by another intercollegiate athletic association. Additional seasons of competition, based on non-collegiate participation, will be charged when the student is not enrolled in a collegiate institution, or is enrolled but does not represent the institution in intercollegiate competition.”


The intent of competitive experience is to charge a student when the student participates (and gains a competitive advantage) in elite-level competition. The bylaws do not differentiate men’s and women’s sports as two separate sports. Amen’s sport team and a women’s sport team (e.g. men’s soccer and women’s soccer) would be considered the same sport as it relates to an individual student’s experience; competitive experience in one would equal a competitive advantage in the other.

Therefore, a student has four seasons of competition in any sport, regardless of whether some are men’s and some are women’s.


A student will be charged for competing in elite-level competition, regardless of what gender the competition is for/against.

Should the student play in both countable men’s and women’s competition in the same 12-month window, at the student’s total competition (both genders combined) must be evaluated when determining if the student has met the Evaluative Criteria and will be charged a season in an individual sport (e.g. an individual sport athlete is charged a season of competition when the student competes in three elite-level competitions in the same 12-month window).


A women’s club soccer team competes as part of a U20 men’s league (all other teams in the league are male). If a player on the women’s team wants to play in the NAIA in women’s soccer, will this experience be factored in to the student’s competitive history?

Yes. The league will be evaluated to determine if it is chargeable per the Evaluative Criteria, and will be treated accordingly. The fact it was a men’s league and the student is female is irrelevant. The student could be charged a season in the sport of soccer, regardless of gender.

NEC Interp – Creation date February 2013. Current as of: September 2017