Progress Rule GPA & Exception

Bylaw Article V, Section C, Item 9b and exception

Amended at the 2021 National Convention – Applicible for all eligibility decisions May 1, 2022 and thereafter.

“To participate in a second, third and/or fourth season in a sport, all students must have and maintain a total cumulative GPA of at least 2.000 on a 4.000 scale.”

“EXCEPTION: A student is exempt from this requirement during their second season of competition in a sport if the previous season of competition was charged for non-intercollegiate participation.”

Background & Intent

Prior to this change athletes were not required to have a specific collegiate GPA until they were a junior academically or athletically. Now an athlete must have at least a 2.000 GPA before they compete in their second season of competition and from then on. The progress rule, where this GPA requirement is found, is sport specific and tied specifically to seasons of competition charged. If a student is going into their second season of competition in baseball but is competing in their first season in football they would need to meet the GPA for baseball and not football. This means a student could be eligible for one sport and not be eligible for a subsequent sport.

With this new change also comes a new exception. A student is exempt from meeting this GPA requirement for their second season of competition if their previous season that was charged was for non-intercollegiate competition. For example, an international student competed in a chargeable league prior to coming to the NAIA and was charged for that competition. This student would not be expected to have a 2.000 GPA to compete in their second season of competition. On the other hand if a student was charged a season at a junior college and came to the NAIA for her second season of competition, they would have to meet the 2.000 GPA. This amendment was proposed by the Council of Faculty Athletic Representatives

FAQ’s

Q1: How does this rule apply to those students who compete in less than 20% of the frequency of play limits and are thus not charged a season of competition?

A: The Progress Rule only applies to seasons of competition actually charged. Thus, if a student competed but wasn’t charged a season of competition, they would not be subject to this GPA requirement until they are actually going into their second season of competition.

Q2: We have a student who is going into his second season of competition in track but is in his first season of competition for football. If he has a 1.9 GPA will he be ineligible for both sports?

A: No, the Progress Rule is sport-specific. Therefore this student could be eligible for football but would be ineligible for track.

Q3: We have a student who was charged with one season of competition for outside competition. He has passed the required 24 credit hours to play in his second season, however he has a 1.8 GPA. Would he be able to meet Exception 1 included in the proposal?

A: Yes. As Exception 1 states, a student will be exempt from meeting the GPA requirement during their second season of competition if the previous season of competition charged was for non-intercollegiate participation.

However, note that this exception specifically states “exempt from…. Their second season of competition.” If the student-athlete is charged more than one season of competition for outside competitive experience, then they will be required to meet the existing GPA requirement that applies to all students in their third and fourth seasons of competition in order to be eligible. 

Q4: A student is transferring to us from a non-NAIA school. He was charged a season of competition as punishment for failing a drug test. Can he meet one or both of these exceptions?

A: No. The exceptions specifically provide leniency to non-intercollegiate participation. The NAIA takes seasons charged by other athletic associations at face value, be it for penalty or actual intercollegiate competition. Some athletes get charged an intercollegiate season for practicing with a team only. If an athletic association deems the season charged under their rules, the NAIA will take that at face-value and view it as a season charged for collegiate participation. The Progress Rule exceptions would not apply.

Q5: Who is considered an entering freshman?

A: The NAIA defines an entering freshman as follows: “A student who upon becoming identified with an NAIA institution has not been previously identified with any institution(s) of higher learning for any two semesters or three quarters (or the equivalent).”