NCAA DI Rule Changes for 2015-16

At the recent 2015 NCAA Convention, which was held near Washington, DC, voting representatives for Division I institutions approved two legislative proposals which drew much attention, and which will significantly impact Division I student-athletes, especially those receiving full athletic scholarships. These proposals will take effect beginning in the 2015-16 academic year.

The first proposal gives Division I universities the opportunity to increase the value of a full scholarship to include the “cost of attendance.” The federal government’s definition of the “cost of attendance” allows a university to include such expenses as academic-related supplies (lab coats and goggles, brushes and canvases for art classes, etc) and the cost of transportation for a student to travel between their home and the campus, in addition to the expenses that are already included in a full athletic scholarship – tuition, course-related fees, room, board, and books.

It has been estimated that on average nationally, the “cost of attendance” is approximately $2500 more than the value of a full athletic scholarship. However, those costs can vary widely from one university to another. So, while the “cost of attendance” may allow one university to increase the value of a full athletic scholarship by $1800, for example, another university may be able to increase the full athletic scholarship value by $4500. This has caused some concern among financial aid administrators across the country, as discussed in this USA Today article which was written prior to the Convention’s opening gavel:

The other proposal regarding athletic scholarships, which will not impact scholarships currently in place this year, but which will take effect in the 2015-16 school year, will prohibit Division I universities from cutting an athlete’s scholarship for athletic reasons. Somewhat surprisingly, the NCAA student-athletes who spoke at the Convention regarding this proposal were divided on the proposal, with some advocating strongly that coaches should be allowed to cut an athlete’s scholarship if they’re not performing up to desired levels. A Division I softball player and football athlete both argued that the approval of this legislation would restrict the coach’s ability to do what the coach believes is in the best interest of the team’s success.

Our recommendation: Athletes, and parents of athletes, who will be on a Division I athletic scholarship next year and in the future should carefully read the financial aid agreement that the athlete signs with the university, and any other team rules or student-athlete handbooks that are distributed to athletes. I predict that coaches will be looking for other ways which will allow them to reduce or not renew an athlete’s scholarship. Such methods may include even minor violations of team rules that may have been vaguely stated in the past, including attendance at study halls or tutoring sessions, lifting and conditioning sessions, and perhaps even anybody with a GPA below a certain level, such as 3.00.

If you have questions about these proposals, and how they might impact your student-athlete, contact us for a phone consultation, and E-Consult, or submit a question to Rick through our membership site, Informed Athlete University (

About Rick Allen

25+ years NCAA Rules Expertise, including Director of Compliance at 2 major DI schools

Former President of National Association for Athletic Compliance (NAAC)

Conducts compliance reviews and audits at NCAA Schools throughout the U.S.

Consulted with NAIA schools transitioning to NCAA membership status

Dad of a DI & DII student-athlete

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