Are You Joining a Team as a Preferred Walk-on at an NCAA or NAIA school?

Now that the initial excitement and media attention devoted to National Letter of Intent “Signing Day” for football recruits is starting to wear off, college coaches are going back to work by recruiting walk-ons to their teams to fill roster spots for kickers, punters, long snappers, and other positions to provide depth on their teams.

We frequently see announcements on social media that an athlete has accepted a “preferred walk-on” offer from a coaching staff – not just for football, but for many different sports.

What exactly is a preferred walk-on?  That term actually means nothing more than whatever that coaching staff intends it to mean.  At one university, a preferred walk-on may be guaranteed a spot on their roster, while at another university, it may only mean that they don’t have to go through an open tryout to make the team next Fall.

What is more important for a preferred walk-on in certain sports is whether they are considered “recruited” to their university team.  This can be an important factor in their opportunity to be immediately eligible if they decide to transfer after a year or two to a Division I program.

For certain sports, it can mean the difference between being immediately eligible for competition and a scholarship at their new university, or serving a “year in residence” before they can compete.

If your athlete has been offered a preferred walk-on status at either an NCAA or NAIA school, and you have questions about what it means and how that could negatively impact a potential transfer opportunity, contact us at, or call 913-766-1235.

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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