The new 20% Season of Competition bylaw that went into effect August 1, 2021 instituted a minimum number of intercollegiate contests a student must participate in before they would be charged a season of competition. This change has made the current medical hardship process for NAIA athletes non-applicible.
Note that the contest limits under the new 20% rule reflect the same contest limits under the previous medical hardship requirements. This means that the medical hardship limits, if met, are no longer applicable as the limits under the 20% SOC rule simply mimics the previous game limits. Additionally, the new 20% SOC rule is more lenient than the previous medical hardship process as the new rule does not require a medical doctor’s evaluation during the sport season in question to determine if a student suffered a season-ending injury. In the sport of football, for example, a student-athlete could compete in the first game, sit out the following two games, and then play in one more game in the season. Regardless if the student was injured or not, the student would receive an exception to the season of competition as the student competed in 20% or less of the frequency of play limits thus not being charged a season for that current academic year. Therefore, the medical hardship process for NAIA student-athletes is no longer applicable. The NAIA national office will not process medical hardship requests for seasons beginning August 1, 2021 and moving forward. Medical hardships may still be submitted for seasons prior to this date and/or for student-athletes who are not competing in the NAIA at the time of injury.