Summer Activities with Prospective Student-Athletes

Who is considered a prospective student?

Article V, Section B, Item 16: A prospective student is any individual, regardless of age or stated commitment to a school, who has never identified with your institution or whose most recent collegiate identification is with another institution.

All incoming freshmen and transfers are considered prospective students until the student identifies with your institution. A student identifies by being enrolled in 12 institutional credit hours as shown by an official transcript as of the institution’s census date.

Can incoming freshmen or transfer students practice with a college team in the summer?

The general rule is that prospective students may not practice or compete with an institution’s team prior to the beginning of the 24-week season, regardless of the student’s stated commitment to the institution.

Incoming freshmen and transfers may only practice or compete with an institution’s team during the summer if one of the following guidelines is satisfied:

  • the student is enrolled full-time (as determined by the institution) in summer coursework
  • the student is enrolled in at least 12 institutional credit hours for the upcoming fall term

A prospective student who does not meet either of these requirements may not practice or compete with the institution’s team until the team begins its 24-week season during the academic year.

A practice is considered any activity organized and/or directed by a member of the coaching staff in which appropriate equipment is used or instruction and/or evaluation of the athlete takes place.

Examples considered practices: A cross country coach scheduling a 25-minute, low-intensity run; a volleyball graduate assistant organizing, but not attending, a spiking and blocking session; a basketball coach organizing an open gym shoot around; a golf coach setting tee times for student-athletes to play 18 holes.

Examples not considered practices: Basketball team members attending a public open gym session on their own accord; seniors organizing 7-on-7 passing sessions with wide receivers where coaches are not present; a group of hurdlers working numerous drills based on the summer workout guide provided by the track and field coach.

Summer practice/playing limits: NAIA practice and competition bylaws, outside of those referenced above, are only enforced from August 1st through May 15th each academic year. This means that any practice or game activities held during the summer are regulated by the institutional policy at each member institution.

Prospective students (entering freshman and transfers) are allowed to engage in informal conditioning activities with continuing student-athletes. Prospective students are not permitted to practice or compete with an institution’s team prior to the beginning of the 24-week season unless the student is enrolled full-time in summer coursework at the NAIA institution, or enrolled in 12 institutional credit hours for the fall term at the NAIA institution.

Bylaws Referenced: V.B.16

Can incoming freshmen or transfers compete with a college team in the summer and in overseas trips?

If a prospective student meets the exception listed above, the student can compete with an institution’s team in the summer.

Students who do not meet the exception may not compete with the institution’s team during the summer. However, this regulation does not necessarily prohibit a prospective student from playing on a team consisting of students identified with an NAIA member institution or playing on a team coached by a member of the coaching staff at an NAIA member institution.

For example, a prospective student may compete in amateur swimming competitions for a club swim team with a coach that also coaches the swimming and diving team at an NAIA member institution. The key factors are: (a) the coach has an official and legitimate role with the club team, and (b) the NAIA member institution is not funding or associated with the club team in any way.

Overseas trips: Students who are classified as prospective, may not participate in overseas competition with an NAIA institution. The student must be identified with the institution in order to be eligible to play. This is true even in the summer when frequency of play limits and practice bylaws are not enforced. Prospective students may play in overseas competitions if they are enrolled in full-time summer coursework or enrolled in 12 institutional credit hours at the NAIA institution for the fall term.

Case: An institution’s basketball team will tour Japan over the summer and will compete against teams from that country during the tour. May recently graduated high school students, who will enter the institution this fall, play on the team during the tour?

Approved Ruling: No. Since the institution is being represented, all participating students must have been identified with the institution during the spring term. Allowing students who are not yet identified with the institution to participate in such a tour would also violate NAIA tryout regulations. 

However, if student meets the criteria listed in the first exception to the prospective student definition, per bylaws Article V, Section B, Item 16, the student may practice and compete with an institution’s team during the summer (May 16th – July 31st).

Can an incoming freshman or transfer student stay in the dorm during the summer?

Many incoming freshmen and transfer students take college classes on campus the summer prior to identification. Prospective students may live in university housing while attending summer classes provided (a) the student pays the full housing costs charged to the general student body, or (b) any financial aid provided by the institution is distributed through the institution’s committee on student loans and scholarships in keeping with established institutional policies.

Any aid distributed to a prospective student during the summer counts toward the total maximum amount that may be provided to a student or prospective student (i.e. tuition, room and board, mandatory books and fees). Prospective students may not live in the dorms for free during any portion of the summer.

Can prospective students attend summer camps?

NAIA head and assistant coaches are allowed to conduct legitimate instructional camps for the public during the summer months. A camp is considered legitimate if the camp is open to the public and prospective students pay a rate equivalent to all other similarly situated attendees.

Prospective students may attend camps hosted by an NAIA coach because a prospective student’s participation in such a camp is not considered to be practicing with an institution’s team.

See also: Summer Participation & Seasons of Competition