NAIA Bylaws, Policies, and Sport Rules

NAIA members and student-athletes are held to many different types of rules and regulations. Understanding the different levels of NAIA rules will provide an understanding of the different regulations and, if a change is desired, how to go about requesting a change to the rules and regulations.

Sport Rule

Most NAIA championship sports have adopted the NCAA rule book for each sport. Sport rules are governed under the NCAA sport rule book, with modifications approved by the National Administrative Council (NAC). Sport rules are competition rules that only impacts the specific sport.

If a change is requested, coaches within the sport’s association can bring forward the request. The sport’s coaches association can vote on these requests at their annual business meeting. Once approved by the coaches association, it will be submitted to the NAC to determine if the sport rule modification will be approved and implemented in the next sport season.

Sport rule modification example: Men’s basketball wants to change the timing system from two 20 minute halves to four 10 minute quarters. If this request is approved by the men’s basketball coaches association, the proposal will move forward to the NAC at the next quarterly meeting to determine final approval.


Each council in the NAIA: the National Administrative Council (NAC), Council of Presidents (COP), Council of Faculty Athletics Representatives (CFAR), and the Council of Student-Athletes (CSA), oversee their own policy section in the handbook. Policies from each council can dictate rules and regulations for numerous areas, such as postseason (NAC), financial aid limits (COP), and academic eligibility (CFAR).

Each council can receive policy requests from their constituent groups and vote to adopt or modify the policy for their respective council. The National Coordinating Committee (NCC) will vote on each policy request at the annual convention to determine whether the change will be adopted.

Policy modification example: Men’s wrestling wishes to change the upper financial limits for the sport of wrestling. This will be a financial aid limit request that must be reviewed by the Council of Presidents as financial aid limits is under the COP policy.

(Constitution) & Bylaws: Published annually in the NAIA handbook, the NAIA bylaws are generally tied to eligibility, continuing eligibility, or definitions that impact one or all sports. Bylaws may be amended, added, or removed. Proposals that come forward must be submitted 90 days before the annual business meeting. Bylaw proposals can have one sponsor if it is a council or standing committee, otherwise it must have a sponsor and a co-sponsor if one or both of the sponsors is an association (such as a coaches association).

Bylaw amendments that are submitted by the deadline each year are subsequently reviewed by the National Constitution and Bylaws Committee. This committee is charged with reviewing the bylaw proposals for any conflicts of current bylaw language and how the ruling may fit if approved by the membership. Additionally, they will take into account when the bylaw may be implemented (default is the next academic year, but may be pushed out to accommodate larger changes, such as freshmen eligibility requirements).

The bylaw (and constitution) proposals are voted on by the membership at the annual meeting. Each NAIA institution and conference are allowed one voting delegate to represent their institution or conference at the annual business meeting.

Bylaw Amendment Example:

Extending the 24-week season to 26 weeks in order to encompass early fall competitions (soccer/volleyball/football).