2-1 Penalty for Ineligible Student-Athletes

Bylaw: Article VI, Section B, Item 9 b-c

“Any member institution which permits the use of a student who is ineligible according to NAIA rules and standards in either program in which it holds membership shall thereby automatically*:

  1. Charge the ineligible student with a season of competition for participating pursuant to Article V, Section B, Item 19;
  2. Cause a review of the case by the appropriate committees of this Association. The ineligible student may be assessed additional penalties up to being declared ineligible for further intercollegiate competition for withholding information or supplying false or incomplete information;” (amended May 2021)

(*for purposes of this interpretation, we have cited points b-c of Article VI, Section B, Item 9; however, this bylaw includes points a-f.)


In an effort to provide leniency when a student has played ineligibily in a relatively minor number of contests, the NEC created the following formula to allow the student to serve a punishment for the ineligible competition but preserve the season of competition.

If the student competes ineligibly, but is considered “otherwise eligible” (i.e. competes without an eligibility center decision, but meets freshmen eligibility requirements), then the following penalty may occur:

  • A student may sit one game for each game played ineligible (1/1) if the game the student competed in while ineligible was a scrimmage.
  • If the student is found to have competed in less than 50% of the season, a 2/1 penalty is given. Student may sit two games for each game played in ineligibly. The student is also charged a season of competition.
  • If the student is found to have competed in 50% or more of the season, the student is charged a season of competition and must sit out the remaining of the season. If the student chooses to compete immediately, they are charged an additional season of competition for reestablishing eligibility within the season per Article VI, Section B, Item 9c.

If the NEC determines to be appropriate, the 2/1 framework described above may be applied to the subsequent season in order for the student to not be charged an additional season. Essentially, this creates a way to bridge the gap between the season when the student initially competed while ineligible and the following season when the student gains eligibility.

  • If the student competes immediately the following year without sitting out, then the season the student competed while ineligible will stand as a season charged, and the student will also be charged a season for her eligible competition the following year.

If the student competed, but was not “otherwise eligible” (i.e. competes without an eligibility center decision, but does not meets freshmen eligibility requirements), then the student is automatically charged two seasons of competition.


The penalties outlined in Article VI, Section B, Item 9 were introduced at the 1993 National Convention. While the National Eligibility Committee is charged with upholding the bylaws, the NEC also understands that each case should be evaluated on its own merits. The NEC did not want to implement an automatic penalty if actions could be taken by the student to mitigate the number of games played while ineligible. The 2/1 penalty structure was created, in particular, to offset Article VI, Section B, Item 9c so that a student is not automatically charged an additional season in one academic year.


Note this is a guideline in order to offset the penalty listed in Article VI, Section B, Item C. It is up to the NEC to determine if the 2/1 penalty structure is appropriate for the level of violation that has occurred. However, if the student does compete while ineligible, re-establishes eligibility, and competes again before the NEC has reviewed the violation that occurred, the NEC may determine that an additional season charged is appropriate per the bylaws. Therefore, when a violation is identified, it is important to withhold the student from further competiton so that the automatic penalty of an additional season may not be applied.

NEC Interp – Creation date October 1993. Current as of: December 2018