Mid-Year Transfer Student Eligibility: Common Scenarios & FAQs

Transfer – No Season Charged in Previous Term

Q: A transfer student currently attends an NAIA school for the fall term and was a member of the women’s basketball team. She intends to transfer to a new NAIA institution for the spring term. The student-athlete participated in 4 games during the fall term at the previous NAIA institution. Can she transfer and compete in the spring term at the new NAIA institution? Would she be able to play in any games that occur before our spring semester begins if she was listed on our spring eligibility certificate? What about her seasons of competition?

A: Several factors need consideration for mid-year transfer student-athletes.

  1. According to the bylaw amendment passed in Spring 2023, all transfer students within the NAIA may transfer and compete immediately at the next NAIA institution without serving a residency period. (Exception applies to conference residency rules if the conference mandates transfer students to fulfill a residency period).
  2. All first-time NAIA participants must receive an eligible decision from the Eligibility Center. It’s important to check the situational analysis to ensure that NAIA transfer students do not need to revisit the Eligibility Center for an updated decision. In this scenario, the student wouldn’t need to revisit the Eligibility Center as she has already utilized her Eligibility Center decision in competition.
  3. Once the student transfers to the next NAIA institution, she can compete immediately if the following conditions are met: a) The student must be identified for the following term and b) the student is certified as eligible on the spring certificate.

The student becomes eligible to compete on the first day following the official “end of term” date for the fall term at the next NAIA institution. The student may be the first (and possibly only) student listed on the first spring certificate in ECP while the remaining team members are using the 30-day window for recertification from the fall certificate.

It’s crucial to note the number of contests the student competed in at the first NAIA institution during the fall term. Article V, Section B, Item 20 (Seasons of Competition bylaw) states that a student-athlete won’t be charged a season of competition until they compete in more than 20% of the sport’s frequency of play and/or participate in postseason activities at the NAIA institution. The 20% limit pertains to the student’s competition at each institution. Thus, in this example, the student won’t be charged a season of competition for the four games played at the first NAIA institution during the fall term. If the student competes in seven or more competitions (20% limit for basketball) and/or participates in NAIA approved postseason activities, she will be subjected to being charged only one season of competition for the academic year.

Transfer – One Season of Competition Charged in Previous Term

Alternatively, if the student competed in seven competitions during the fall term (exceeding the 20% limit for basketball), transferred to the next NAIA institution in the spring, and competed in seven or more competitions and/or postseason activities, then the student will be subject to being charged two seasons of competition in one academic year.

Per Article V, Section G, Item 8

A student charged with a season of competition in one sport by different institutions in the same academic year shall be charged with two seasons of competition. A student could amass two seasons of competition within one academic year.

A common scenario involves fall sport student-athletes who are charged a season of competition in the fall and then choose to transfer to an NAIA institution in the spring. These fall sport athletes aim to compete in the spring scrimmage season for their sport. These students may do so with the understanding that they will need to be certified as if they are entering their next season of competition, as the previous season charged in the fall is considered a stand-alone season of competition. The previous season charged is contingent on participation at the institution, not necessarily the academic year.

For a freshman student-athlete who competed in soccer in the fall, was charged a season of competition, and then chooses to transfer to a different NAIA school in the spring, that student will need to be certified as if they are entering their next season of competition. Regardless of subsequent competitions being scrimmages where the student will not be charged a season of competition, in this example, the student typically won’t have the total number of accumulated credits to meet the Progress Rule for the next season of competition.

Additional articles worth noting for potential mid-year transfers:

1. Mid-Year Certification

2. 2023 Bylaw Update for Indoor/Outdoor Track and Field and Wrestling

3. Mid-Year Eligibility for Freshmen