How Do I Transfer from an NAIA School? Here's what you need to know

How Do I Transfer from an NAIA School? Here’s What You Need to Know …

If you are a student athlete who is looking to transfer from an NAIA program, there are a few things you should know first before you start making any major moves. This article intends to answer some of the questions many student athletes and parents have about transferring from an NAIA school to NAIA school and from NAIA to NCAA schools. It will provide some much needed clarity about the conflicting rules you may have come across between the two associations when it comes to transfer students.


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This is just to make it very clear that it is your responsibility as the student athlete to provide accurate and truthful information to the NAIA eligibility center especially when you transfer. When you transfer you will have to recontact the Eligibility center again with your decision and to update information. Your eligibility status determinations are based on: your academic achievement, your status as a transfer student, your collegiate competition, and competition outside the traditional collegiate setting after high school graduation which are all evaluated against and within current NAIA rules.

What is the Transfer Eligibility Statement?

The transfer eligibility statement is required for all transfer students and is completed by the campus faculty athletics representative (FAR). The transfer eligibility statement must now be completed electronically through the ECP process and included in the certificate packet sent to the eligibility chair.

AN EXAMPLE SCENARIO: A Student Athlete who is: Eligible, No Competition at first NAIA School, is a Transfer (this is an example to give you an idea of the process you will go through when you put in to transfer).

The student registers for term A and receives an ‘eligible’ decision for term A. He maintains continuous identification at NAIA school through the completion of term A. He does not compete in term A and transfers to another NAIA institution in term B. He now wants to compete at the new school – what must the student athlete do …

  • Reapplication is required prior to competition at new school
  • FAR (Faculty Athletic Representative) directs the student to reconnect with eligibility center to update their information and seek a new determination prior to competition at the new school
  • The student athlete submits to the eligibility center additional information related to academics and competitive experience since previous determination was made
  • Then the student athlete requests official transcripts be sent directly from their previous school to eligibility center
  • The Eligibility center indicates eligibility status for the new term
  • FAR certifies proper application of NAIA, school and conference rules and submits all required forms to the conference eligibility chair prior to competition

You will need a Transfer Release to Transfer From an NAIA:

What is a transfer release? It is a document which is prepared by the student athletes current school. The document states that the student athlete is able to play immediately as a result of transferring to another school without having to sit out for the residency period. This release document with the student athletes 2.0 cumulative GPA, allows a student athlete to transfer between NAIA schools and have the 16-week residency period waived.

This same transfer release document is required for a student athlete who wants to transfer from an NAIA school to an NCAA school. For students transferring from the NAIA to the NCAA the first step is to get the permission to contact form. The second step is to get the transfer release document.

What is Permission to Contact?

Firstly, to make it clear – a permission to contact is solely an NCAA rule. The NAIA does not require a permission to contact. The NAIA only requires that the student athlete’s current school is notified within 10 days that another school is in communication with the student and, there is no required return communication from the student’s current NAIA school.

Why do you need a permission to contact? This bylaw requires that schools must get permission from the student athletes current school so they can speak to them about transferring.

NOTE: The permission to contact in itself does not provide a release for the student athlete to participate immediately. It only grants permission to the NCAA institution to speak with the student athlete.

A notable difference for NCAA D2 Schools: If a NCAA D2 school does not get a response to a permission to contact within fourteen days, the D2 school will take the non-response as an automatic granting of permission from the NAIA school that they can go ahead and speak with the player.

What you should know if you are a Student Athlete Transferring from an NAIA to an NCAA School:

For NCAA D1 & D3 Schools:

The NCAA recruiting rules require any NAIA student athlete wanting to contact an NCAA D1 or D3 school to first obtain a permission to contact from their current NAIA school. To do this you need to speak with the Director of Athletics at your current NAIA school and put in your request. An alternative way that you are allowed to do this is to write to a NCAA D1 or D3 school to request they ask your current NAIA school for a permission to contact. It is advisable to only do this if it is necessary.

NOTE: If permission to contact is not granted, the new NCAA school is not allowed to encourage the transfer student.

For NCAA D2 Schools:

For an NAIA student athlete wanting to contact an NCAA D2 school, a permission to contact is NOT REQUIRED to begin speaking with the NCAA D2 school. However, if the NCAA D2 school chooses to begin recruiting you this changes. The NCAA D2 school is then obligated by NCAA recruiting rules to notify your NAIA school of any recruiting activity.

When Can I Play? Normally, you need to spend one academic year at your new school as a full-time student before you are eligible to compete. This time is called an academic year of residence. Most student athletes who are not eligible to compete immediately benefit from a year to adjust to their new school and focus on their classes.

Student athletes who must sit out for a year at their new school can practice with their new team and receive an athletics scholarship if they were academically eligible when they left their previous school. To
confirm this you should speak with your compliance office on campus.

For your academic year of residence to count, you must attend classes only at the school where you plan to compete and you must be a full-time student (generally at least 12 credit hours). You cannot meet this requirement by attending your new school part time or by not attending school at all! For a semester or quarter to count toward your academic year of residence, you must enroll before the 12th day of class of that academic term.

NOTE: Each school determines its own full-time status, so it is advisable to check with the athletics compliance office at your new school to find out how many credit hours you need to take.

Are there any exceptions to this academic year in residence requirement when you transfer from an NAIA?

Yes, there are a number of transfer exceptions that could allow you to practice, compete and/or receive an athletics scholarship during your first year at your new school. Once you have all your paperwork in order and it is allowed for you to speak with another school, you should talk to the athletics compliance office at your new school to see if you qualify for a transfer exception or not. It will be your new school that decides if you qualify for a transfer exception.

TIP: Remember, other school or conference rules can and will also impact your immediate eligibility so check on this too.


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