Longer chance U: NAIA removes seasons of competition

Current Dickinson State University student-athletes will be able to extend its eligibility following the 20-21 academic year due to new rules made by NAIA. (File Image/The Dickinson Press)

In a shocking turn of events, the NAIA Council of Presidents Committee announced this week they are removing the Seasons of Competition/50% rule. That means fall and winter student-athletes will not be charged a season of completion for the 2020-21 academic year and will retain a year of eligibility.

Originally, the Council of Presidents Executive Committee decided all students, as long as they played less than 50% of their maximum allowed contests, would not be charged a year of student-athlete eligibility. However, due to numerous NAIA teams having to postpone, suspend, or cancel competitions due the coronavirus pandemic and having limited athletic accessibilities, the decision was overturned.

“Due to the constraints that COVID-19 has imposed on collegiate athletics, most of our conferences believed it was in the best interest of our fall and winter student-athletes to not charge a season of competition this year,” NAIA President and CEO Jim Carr said in a press release.

“Many factors were taken into account, but the underlying consideration was relieving pressure on both student-athletes, as well as institutions, as they continue to navigate the fall and winter seasons.”

The ruling applies to students freshmen through seniors who are currently playing NAIA sports.


Dickinson State Athletic Director Pete Stanton, who is also the head coach of the football team, said he is having mixed feelings about the decision.

"It’s a good situation for our true freshman that they don’t lose a year and they get their redshirt year back, but it’s a difficult situation for a scholarship standpoint," Stanton said. "We as a program have to continue to recruit classes and all of our programs need to continue to recruit classes. There’s going to have to be tough decisions made on scholarship amounts if someone does decide to stay an extra year versus bringing somebody in. Definitely mixed feelings."

Stanton said the goal will continue to be the same for Dickinson State, helping student-athletes eventually graduate from school.

" We certainly don’t want students to be in school for over five years to play a sport," he said. "We want to keep them on course to graduate. For the most part, we are going to proceed as normal and if there’s a situation where somebody had to pick up some classes on another year or they decided to take a master’s degree program within our school then that would be a different story."

Matthew Curry is a sports reporter and photographer for the West Central Tribune.
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