Progress Rule Exception for 2nd Season of Competition

Bylaw: Article V, Section C, Item 9a Exception 1

“To participate a second season in a sport, all students must have accumulated at least 24 semester/36 quarter (or equivalent) institutional credit hours.

EXCEPTION: A freshman who initially becomes identified after the first term in the fall shall meet this requirement by having passed 12 semester or 20 quarter institutional credit hours. This exception shall apply to the second season of competition regulation only.”


The exception outlined in Article V, Section C, Item 9a is intended for students who initially identify after the fall term (e.g. winter term or spring term) and compete in their first season of competiton during either the winter and/or spring term of attendance. Credits earned prior to the student’s first academic term cannot be used to meet the Progress Rule exception going into the second season of competition.

Background and Intent

The purpose of the exception is to recognize that a student who first enrolls mid-year is not on pace to complete a full year’s worth of credits (i.e. 24 semester/36 quarter credits) by the subsequent fall term. If the student participates in a sport that competes in both the fall and spring seasons, the student would not be able to satisfy the Progress Rule without an exception. This exception is intended to provide some leniency for incoming freshmen who enroll mid-year, but also is a short-term cushion, meaning the student is expected to earn additional hours and get themselves caught up with the Progress Rule prior to their third season of competition as no such exception is available at that point.

For these reasons, a student is granted leniency from meeting the full Progress Rule heading into the student’s second season, but is still expected to have earned the standard amount of credit hours within his or her partial year’s enrollment (i.e. 12 semester/20 quarter credits). In this way, the student is showing that he or she is progressing normally.


An incoming freshman will identify in their first academic term during the spring semester at an NAIA institution. Prior to attending the NAIA institution, the student was charged one season of competition for competing in an elite-level baseball league and earned 12 institutional credit hours in two part-time terms at a junior college. The spring semester in which the student will first identify at the NAIA institution, the student intends to compete in his second season of competition in the sport of baseball. Can the student utilize the progress rule exception in order to compete in his second season of competition?

In this case, the student will not be able to utilize the Progress Rule exception as the student cannot utilize institutional credit hours earned prior to his first term of attendance.

Bylaw: Article V, Section C, Item 9a Exception 2

Amended at the 2020 National Convention

“An entering freshman who has been charged one or more seasons of competition for
non-intercollegiate participation will be exempt from meeting the Progress Rule for one year (two semester/three quarter terms) at an NAIA institution. This exception applies only to a student’s first season of competition at the NAIA institution, after which the student will be required to have earned the requisite hours needed to satisfy the Progress Rule.”

Intent of bylaw amendment:

To create a one-time, one-year exception to the Progress Rule for incoming freshmen students who have been charged at least one season of competition for non-intercollegiate participation. At the conclusion of the one year, the student will be required to satisfy the Progress Rule and the corresponding number of hours required for the total number of seasons of competition the student has been charged.

Related FAQ’s

Q1: Why does the bylaw state this exception is valid for an academic year and not a calendar year?

A: The academic year reflects the timeline that a student-athlete will be certified for the following two semesters or three quarter terms of attendance. This approach allows for consistent application of the rule, whether the student enrolls at the start of an academic year or mid-year.

Q2: How does this affect freshmen who do not compete their first year?

A: This exception may only apply in the student’s first two semesters or three quarters terms of attendance (which is the definition of an entering freshman). If a student does not compete their first year, they cannot utilize the exception after the first academic year has concluded.

Q3: How does this apply in conjunction with Exception 1 in the bylaw? Can the two exceptions overlap?

A: Exception 1 is meant to address student-athletes who are charged their first intercollegiate season of competition in their first term of attendance. Exception 1 is not available if a student has outside seasons of competition when they first identify at the NAIA institution.

Q4: How does this exception apply to student-athletes that are seeking amateurism reinstatement?

A: Part of the requirement for amateurism reinstatement is that a student must serve residency at the NAIA institution in which they wish to compete for two semesters/three quarter terms of attendance. Therefore, once the student has his or her amateurism reinstated, they will be outside the window to utilize the exception in this proposal.

Q5: Does this exception carry over between seasons?

A: No. This exception is for a one-time exemption the first time the student is certified and the Progress Rule applied at the NAIA institution. Upon certifying for the second intercollegiate season at the NAIA institution, the student-athlete will not be able to utilize the exception.

Q6: What happens if the student-athlete receives a medical hardship or competes in less than 20% of the season and thus is not charged a season of competition?

A: This is a one-time exception that can only apply during the student’s first year at the NAIA institution, so it becomes moot if the student is ultimately not charged or if the first intercollegiate season is returned to the student. If the student is not charged a season in their first year at the NAIA school, when they are certified the following year the student would no longer meet the requirements of the exception.

Q7: A men’s basketball player has been charged two seasons of competition: one season for competing in an elite-level, non-intercollegiate league, and another season for competing for one semester at a junior college. The one semester at the junior college is his first and only term of attendance, meaning he is still considered a freshman under NAIA rules. Can this student utilize Exception 2 under the Progress Rule?

A: Yes. He satisfies all criteria of the exception by still meeting the definition of an entering freshman and by being charged at least one non-intercollegiate season of competition. The intent of the exception is to allow a student a one-time grace period when charged with a season of competition for non-intercollegiate play prior to completing his first year, recognizing that he may have been unaware of the Progress Rule and likely does not have the requisite coursework needed to satisfy the rule. In most cases when a student has both an intercollegiate and a non-intercollegiate season charged, the student will have used more than one term of attendance and would not be eligible for the exception.


Related Bylaws:

Article V, Section B, Item 19

NEC Interp – Creation date unknown. Current as of: January 2017