NAIA Basketball Rules & Regulations

The National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics grew out of the National College Basketball tournament first staged in 1937 by Dr. James Naismith, the inventor of basketball. Today, basketball is one of the 13 sports sanctioned by the NAIA for championship play. The NAIA’s membership of around 300 institutions primarily consists of smaller schools, but talented players can stand out. One example is Tugce Canitez, who was named to the Turkish women’s national team for the 2012 Summer Olympics. The NAIA uses National Collegiate Athletic Association rules for both men’s and women’s basketball.

Season and Eligibility

NAIA bylaws restrict men’s and women’s basketball teams to a 24-week season including practices and games. This does not include games played in NAIA-approved postseason tournaments such as conference championships and the NAIA Championships. Incoming players from high school need to have graduated and fulfill two of the three requirements of a minimum score of 18 on the ACT or 860 on the SAT, a high school GPA of 2.0 or higher and having finished in the top half of their graduating class. Transfer students and existing students joining a basketball team can submit their college academic records.


The Rawlings Franchise is the official ball of NAIA basketball for both men’s and women’s play. Both balls have a composite leather cover and eight channels that allow a player to grip the ball while shooting. The men’s ball has a circumference of 29.5 inches, while the women’s ball has a circumference of 28.5 inches.


NAIA basketball courts are 94 feet long and 50 feet wide. A free-throw line is 15 feet from each basket and serves as the place for players to attempt foul shots. A three-point arc extends 20 feet, 9 inches from the basket. All field goals made from behind this line are worth three points instead of two. The basket has a diameter of 18 inches and is placed on a backboard and suspended 10 feet above the floor at each end of the court.

Game Play

NAIA basketball games consist of two 20-minute periods. The team with the most points at the end of the game is the winner. If the score is tied at the end of regulation, extra periods of five minutes are played until one team ends an overtime period with a greater number of points. Teams with possession of the ball must attempt a shot within a set period of time or forfeit possession to the other team. The shot clock length is 35 seconds for men’s NAIA games and 30 seconds for women’s NAIA games. Players who commit five personal fouls such as blocking, pushing or holding are disqualified from the remainder of the contest.