Summer Participation & Amateurism

Article VII, Section C, Item 2

An individual participating as a recognized amateur under the rules of a sport’s national governing body shall adhere to the amateur award regulations of the national governing body of that particular sport when the individual is not institutionally identified or when such events are held during the summer in which the individual is not representing an institution.

This bylaw application allows an individual to maintain NAIA amateur status in a particular sport by adhering to the amateur rules of that sport’s national governing body when the individual is not institutionally identified or when such participation occurs during the summer and the individual is not representing an institution.

Non-Identified Students:
A student may compete in a competition and receive an award for participation or performance during the summer when not representing an institution or while not enrolled at an institution, as long as all of the following guidelines are met.

  1. The student competes as a recognized amateur per the rules of the sport’s national governing body.
  2. The student adheres to the regulations set forth by the national governing body of that sport when it comes to amateur awards.

It is important to remember that every sport’s national governing body could be different when it comes to the awards that can and cannot be received by amateur athletes. Please be sure to check the rules of your sport’s national governing body before you accept any award.


Prospective students, students not identified during a term and students participating during the summer will maintain NAIA amateur standing by participating in a sport as an amateur and accepting awards in accordance with the amateur rules of the sport’s national governing body.

The new regulations carve out an exception for students who are not bound to NAIA restrictions regarding awards. This applies when students are not identified at an NAIA institution or are competing in the summer independent of the institution. During this time period, students are not held to standard NAIA award restrictions, but instead must simply maintain their amateur status as dictated by the sport’s national governing body.

Examples of New and Existing Legislation

Example 1:
Q: A student volunteers to help organize a 3-on-3 basketball tournament during spring break after her NAIA basketball season has ended for the year. Organizing the event was a lot of work on top of her 15 hour course load that semester, but she enjoys it and even does a couple radio ads to promote the event. She does not get paid for her efforts in organizing the tournament. On the day of the event, one of the teams is shorthanded and asks her to play. She does play and her team wins the whole tournament. All members of the team get $100 gift cards to a local pizza shop. Since the gift card is less than $500, is this permissible?

A: No, this is not permissible. Her participation in organizing, promoting and playing in the event are all permissible acts. The radio ad is permissible because she did not receive remuneration. Gift cards are considered to be the equivalent of cash, and therefore impermissible for a student to accept as an award while identified with their institution. At the moment that she accepts the gift card, regardless of why she accepts it and the amount, she lost her amateur status.

This student would have to go through the amateurism reinstatement process to regain NAIA eligibility in the sport of basketball.

Example 2:
Q: A golf student from NAIA University played in a golf tournament on July 4th, 2015. On the 7th hole, if any player hits a hole in one they win a brand new car. The NAIA student does just that and is awarded a new car from the tournament director. If the student accepts the car, will he lose his amateur status?

A: No, in this case, with the amateurism bylaws regarding non-identified student-athletes, the student will not lose amateur status for accepting the car. The tournament takes place in the summer when the student is not identified with NAIA University; therefore they must follow the amateurism rules of golf’s national governing body. Under golf’s national governing body bylaws, receiving this car will not cause the student to lose amateur status. It is important to keep in mind that every sport is governed differently. A similar situation could result in the loss of amateur status if replicated in a different sport.


Q: Who is responsible for enforcing this provision on campus?
A: It is the responsibility of an institution’s FAR to ensure a student has maintained his/her amateur status. Institutional coaches should be consulted when additional information is needed to understand the sport’s amateur regulations. As a reminder, the NAIA Eligibility Center does not review a student’s amateurism.

Q: May a student receive a cash prize for winning a competition during the summer? Is there a limit on the amount of the cash prize?
A: Provided the student is adhering to the amateur rules of his/her sport, a student can win a cash prize during the summer and/or during a term in which the student is not institutionally identified. Any limitations on the amount of the cash prize would be determined by the national governing body.

Q: What if a sport’s national governing body does not differentiate between amateur and professional competition?
A: Students may accept cash and other prizes for participation in sports that do not differentiate between amateur and professional competition provided the students meet all amateurism regulations in NAIA Bylaws Article VII, Section D.

Q: Does this bylaw allow students to be paid a salary for participation in athletics?
A: No. A student will continue to lose his/her amateur standing if the student participates as a professional, receives a salary for athletic participation or receives expense reimbursement beyond the actual costs of travel, lodging and meals.

Q: Does a student maintain his/her NAIA amateur status if the student participates as a professional but only receives an award of a personal nature?
A: No. A student will lose his/her amateur standing in the NAIA for participating as a professional. This regulation applies to prospective and college students regardless of identification or enrollment.

Q: Can a student identified with an institution accept a pre-loaded VISA gift card as a result of his/her place of finish?
A: No, Visa gift cards or other pre-loaded debit cards are considered cash equivalents. An identified student will lose his/her NAIA amateur standing for accepting a Visa gift card as recognition of participation in athletics.