Freshmen Initial Eligibility (2023)

Q: Are there going to be any exceptions for incoming freshman for the 2021-2022 academic year since ACT/SAT testing dates have been impacted by the pandemic?(Updated 01/29/2021)

A: Yes. In conjunction with the National Eligibility Committee and Council of Faculty Athletics Representatives, the Council of Presidents has approved an exception to initial eligibility rules for incoming freshmen in

2020-21 and the 2021-2022 academic years.

A student that does not have a satisfactory test score can satisfy freshman eligibility standards and become eligible by having at least a 2.000 final high school GPA. The student will receive an eligible determination from the eligibility center. However, any student using this exception will be required to earn at least a 2.000 cumulative collegiate GPA after the student’s second semester or third quarter term of attendance in order to maintain eligibility and compete in that following season. This additional collegiate GPA requirement is required as part of the student’s ability to gain eligibility immediately by use of solely a high school GPA, and is in addition to any applicable continuing eligibility rules that would normally apply. Institutions will verify satisfaction of the college GPA requirement within the ECP software.

All 2020-2021 and 2021-2022 entering freshmen can still become eligible by satisfying two out of the three requirements, as normal. Any freshmen gaining eligibility through traditional bylaw wording will not be required to meet a collegiate 2.00 GPA in order to be certified and compete the following season of competition.

Q: How is “entering freshman” defined? In other words, who can use the COVID-19 freshman exception?(Added 4/17/2020)

A: The bylaws define “entering freshman” as any student who has not previously used two semester / three quarter terms of attendance. As it relates to the COVID-19 freshman exception, any student who has not already been identified for two semester or three quarters is eligible to use the exception, regardless of when they graduated high school and whether they have been charged any seasons of competition.

Q: Do Home School students qualify for the COVID-19 freshman exception?(Updated October 2021)

A: A home-schooled student who has completed a home-schooling program (in accordance with state laws) will be granted automatic eligibility if the student has passed 9 or more institutional credit hours (per the institution where the courses were taken) with a grade of C or better. These credits may be earned at any higher education institution prior to identification to the student’s first term of attendance.

If home school students do not meet the automatic requirements, they can request a Home School Committee Waiver once their decision has been posted. Documents needed for a Home School Committee Waiver request are: the student’s fall 2020 course schedule (required), recommendation letters, academic success plan at the NAIA institution, official dual credit transcripts (if applicable), and any other documentation that you feel would help the student’s case with the committee.

Q: How does the ACT/SAT exception impact the new class rank exception passed at the 2019 convention?(Added 4/17/2020)

A: The class rank exception is still available to those students who do not have a qualifying class rank. The COVID-19 freshman exception has no impact on the class rank exception.

For example, a student could gain eligibility as a freshman by earning 9 institutional credit hours and having a 2.000 high school GPA. In that scenario, the student would not be required to utilize the COVID-19 freshman exception, and would not be required to earn a collegiate 2.00 GPA prior to their second season of competition.

The student could also gain eligibility as a freshman by earning 9 institutional credit hours and a satisfactory ACT or SAT test score.

Q: We have a student who graduated high school in December 2019 and enrolled with us in spring 2020. He received an ineligible decision for spring 2020 for failure to meet two out of the three initial eligibility requirements. He met the high school GPA requirement but did not meet the test score or class rank criteria. Can he use this COVID-19 freshman exception to potentially become eligible in the fall of 2020? And if so, at what point is he required to have a collegiate 2.000 GPA?(Added 4/17/2020)

A: Yes, this student would be able to utilize the COVID-19 freshman exception because he would still be considered an entering freshman in the fall of 2020 because it would be considered his second semester term of attendance. To be eligible for his second season of competition in 2021-22, he would have to have a cumulative 2.000 collegiate GPA at his NAIA school.

Q: We are recruiting a student from a junior college who has used one term of attendance (spring of 2020) and one non-intercollegiate season of competition (competed in a chargeable league in 2018). How does this COVID-19 freshman exception work for this student?(Added 4/17/2020)

A: The student is still considered an entering freshman because she will be in her second semester term of attendance, and therefore the COVID-19 freshman exception can apply. The student can be certified to play in 2020-21 based off a 2.000 HS GPA, even though it will be her second season of competition. Prior to competing in her third season of competition, she will be required to have a 2.000 collegiate GPA because she used the COVID-19 exception, and because she is officially considered a junior athletically and is required to do so per NAIA Bylaws Article V, Section C, Item 9.

Q: We have a football player who played in the fall of 2019 at a junior college and did not identify in the spring of 2020. This student passed 12 hours in the fall of 2019 but with a collegiate GPA of 1.95. He only meets the high school GPA requirement for initial eligibility. Could this student use the COVID-19 freshman exception to be eligible to compete in the fall of 2020?(Updated 8/20/2020)

A: Yes, this student could utilize the COVID-19 freshman exception by having a 2.000 high school GPA since he is still considered an entering freshman. The 2.000 cumulative collegiate GPA at the NAIA institution will not be required until the student is certified for his third season of competition (Fall 2021).

In this scenario, the athlete will still need to meet the progress rule prior to the second season of competition.

Q: Will the TOEFL score be considered as an equivalency to the ACT/SAT score requirements?

A: NAIA eligibility rules do not allo the use of TOEFL as an equivalency. It is currently recommended that students register for a future ACT/SAT exam. In absence of a qualifying test score, a 2.0 GPA and top 50% class rank will qualify so finish your senior year strong! If a top 50% class rank canot be obtained, students can use the class rank exception (Article V, Section C, Item 2c, Exception 1) as an additional option.

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