The FAFSA form (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) for the 2020-21 academic year becomes available on October 1.

Should I fill out the FAFSA?

Even if you don’t want to complete the FAFSA form – whether you believe you won’t qualify anyway or because your athlete is being offered a substantial athletic scholarship – be aware that some coaches and athletic departments require that it be completed by all student-athletes.

That’s because those coaches and athletic departments are trying to stretch their scholarship allotments for each sport as far as possible. Having their athletes qualify for other types of scholarships and aid assistance that may be available is a way to do this.

Furthermore, to maximize their financial aid “reach” some colleges have policies that prohibit ALL students (not just athletes) from accepting more than one scholarship or grant so that more students can receive financial assistance.

When your athlete’s recruitment is becoming “serious” with a coach be sure to ask them about campus scholarship policies during a recruiting call or when you’re on a campus visit.

Financial Aid & Scholarship Issues Can Be Confusing!

For more information on scholarships and financial aid agreements, visit our website: https://informedathlete.com/how-we-help/scholarship-strategies/

If you have questions about your athlete’s specific situation, we provide confidential phone consultations to answer questions and discuss options. Schedule your scholarship strategies consult online, call us at 913-766-1235 or send an email to rick@informedathlete.com.

Last week on our Informed Athlete Facebook page I shared a brief comment about an article from a University of Kentucky fan website. The article noted the football coach responding “No” when asked whether their injured quarterback would qualify for a medical redshirt for this season after receiving a season-ending knee injury on Sept. 7.

This is an example of athletes receiving inaccurate eligibility information from a coach, even one who’s been in the business for many years. After all, coaches are hired and paid to win games and they have other athletic department staff members who focus on eligibility issues.

The Case Study

The athlete in this case is Terry Wilson, quarterback at the University of Kentucky. (Note – Terry Wilson is not a client of Informed Athlete). He certainly should qualify for a medical “redshirt” (officially called a medical hardship waiver) for this season, and also for a 6th year of eligibility.

According to Wilson’s publicly available timeline:

  • He started at the University of Oregon by enrolling early in the Spring of 2016 for spring practice.
  • Redshirted during that freshman season of Fall 2016.
  • Transferred to a JUCO in Kansas and played there during the 2017 season.
  • He then transferred to Kentucky where he is now in his second season and year four of his Division I “five-year clock.”

His “clock” will expire after the 2020 football season.

However, because Wilson redshirted during his true freshman season at Oregon and has now suffered a season-ending knee injury at Kentucky, his situation certainly appears to meet the NCAA guidelines to receive an “Extension of Eligibility” waiver and 6th year to play football during the 2021 season if he chooses to do so.

Do You Need Help?

Many times, student-athletes don’t realize they qualify for waivers or appeals that could possibly extend their eligibility, make them immediately eligible for competition, or even allow for a scholarship or appeal hearing.

We provide confidential phone consultations to answer questions and discuss your specific situation. Schedule your consult online, call us at 913-766-1235 or send an email to rick@informedathlete.com.

Currently, sports betting is now legal in 13 states with 6 more states reported to begin within the next year. This comes after a 2018 Supreme Court decision to return such control to the states.

An NCAA athlete’s participation in sports gambling, or sharing information that can be used by sports gamblers, can result in being ruled ineligible by the NCAA. The rule also includes coaches and athletic staff members as well with possible penalties imposed on the school.

What the NCAA Gambling Rule Covers

The prohibition on betting includes not only college sports but also professional sports if that same sport is a recognized NCAA-sponsored sport. For example, betting on horse racing, while frowned upon, is not prohibited, while betting on professional baseball, basketball, football, etc. is absolutely prohibited.

The NCAA gambling prohibition also extends to fantasy leagues that provide a prize based on the outcome of league standings.

Participation in a “pool” as is common with the NCAA March Madness basketball tournament is also prohibited for those in NCAA athletics.

Athletes, coaches, and staff members of NCAA athletic programs must also be very careful not to share information that can be used by gamblers, such as key players being unable to play in an upcoming game due to injury, illness, or other reason.

Do You Have Questions?

As more states across the country legalize sports betting, the NCAA monitoring of athletes, coaches and athletic staff is becoming more difficult but I expect the NCAA to become more vigilant with penalties when caught.

If you have any questions regarding the NCAA rules on sports gambling, send an email to rick@informedathlete.com or call us at 913-766-1235.

When an NCAA DI athlete is considering a transfer to another DI university, there are 2 basic steps in the process.

Step 1:

Submit a written request to be entered into the Transfer Portal.

Prior to the establishment of the NCAA DI Transfer Portal last year, a student-athlete was required to get the permission of his/her coach for a request to speak to other schools. The coach could deny an athlete’s request for permission to speak with all other schools. The coach could also restrict an athlete from talking to particular schools.

This changed in October 2018. Now a student-athlete is required to submit a written request to their compliance office asking to be entered into the Transfer Portal. However, they should inform their coach before contacting the compliance office.

Step 2:

The school the athlete is leaving may be able to object to the student-athlete being immediately eligible at their next school. The student-athlete will then need to sit out a year of competition unless an appeal or a waiver is approved.

Why does a school do this?

There are several reasons that the original school can object. One of the reasons is when the student-athlete’s GPA is under 2.60.

When a transferring athlete has a GPA of 2.60 or higher, their team can receive an APR (Academic Progress Rate) “adjustment” so that they won’t lose the retention point for that athlete. As a result, that team’s APR won’t be negatively impacted by the athlete’s transfer.

To learn more about how the APR can affect an athlete’s transfer, here’s a link to an article on our website: https://informedathlete.com/how-the-academic-progress-rate-apr-can-affect-an-athletes-ncaa-transfer/

Does the transfer athlete have any options?

If the school to which the athlete is transferring agrees to file for a NCAA waiver, they have the potential to be ruled immediately eligible depending on whether the NCAA approves it.

Do you need help?

If your athlete is considering a transfer and their GPA is a concern or you have other questions, we can discuss your specific situation and help you develop a plan to navigate through the process.  Schedule a confidential consult online or call our office at 913-766-1235.

The NCAA’s Academic Progress Rate is a calculation that was designed to improve the academic standards of Division I sports teams and the progress of DI athletes toward graduation.

Each DI scholarship athlete has 2 potential points that they can earn for their team at the end of each semester that will impact each team’s APR rate.

They can earn one “eligibility point” for being academically eligible each semester, and they can also earn the “retention point” if they are returning to their university for the following semester.

As an example, the 27 scholarship players on a Division I baseball team can earn 108 APR “points” in an academic year (the “eligibility point” and the “retention point” for each semester, so 27 players x 2 points, x 2 semesters = 108).

If 7 players don’t stay in the program or aren’t eligible to return in the Fall, there will be 7 “points” lost for that team (108 potential points – 7 lost = 101).  101 divided by 108 is 93.5, so that team’s APR would be 935.

When a student-athlete transfers from a Division I university to another 4-year university, their team can lose a “retention point” unless the athlete has a GPA of at least 2.60.

The reason?  When a transferring athlete has a GPA of 2.60 or higher, their team can receive an APR “adjustment” so that they won’t lose the retention point for that athlete. As a result, that team’s APR won’t be negatively impacted by the athlete’s transfer.

If a team loses too many retention points and the team’s APR drops below 930, there are various penalties that can be imposed including not being allowed to re-award scholarships.  In the most serious cases, the school may lose opportunities for post-season competition.

If the team’s APR is already hovering near the 930 level that can result in penalties, it’s possible that the athletic department may object to the athlete’s immediate eligibility at their next university by requiring that they serve a “year in residence” unless their GPA is at least 2.600 or higher.

To discuss the steps for a transfer and the academic requirements involved, schedule a confidential consult online or by calling us at 913-766-1235.

Social media and media outlets continue to speculate and report on college athletes who they think might be considering a transfer.  This past week, some student-athletes learned that they weren’t going to be the starter at their position and decided that the “grass is greener” at another university.

This time of year, we get many calls regarding potential transfers.  We’re always glad when a student-athlete or their parents call us before they take action because making the wrong decision can have huge negative consequences financially and personally long after the social media outlets stop talking about it. 

Here are a few things to think about before taking action:  

FIRST AND FOREMOST: Is your athlete CERTAIN that transferring is the best decision for them and that they definitely want to leave their current university??

Media reports indicate that there are more than 1000 athletes in the NCAA Transfer Portal (across all sports) and it’s unlikely that all of them will find another college team to transfer to.

Once an athlete submits their name for the NCAA Transfer Portal, it’s possible that they will be removed from their team and will lose their scholarship at the end of the semester. They could lose that opportunity and not find a new one.

Other important considerations:

Participating in organized practices before classes start, even if a student-athlete leaves and withdraws from the school before attending classes, will make them a transfer athlete under the NCAA rules and subject to transfer rules and requirements.

If an athlete has already started attending classes for this semester and is registered as a full-time student, it is rarely a good idea for them to withdraw from classes in the middle of the semester or quarter to transfer elsewhere. Encourage them to at least finish out this current term of attendance.

NCAA Division I athletes should inform their athletic department compliance office in writing or via email that they want to be entered into the NCAA Transfer Portal. Also, while not a specific requirement, it is always best to show the coach the courtesy and respect of informing them of your intentions before sending an email to the compliance office.

Also for Division I athletes, remember that once you tell your school you want to be entered in the Transfer Portal, they have the right to cancel your scholarship at the end of the semester or quarter, even if you were planning to finish out the current school year.  If you are at a Division I program that hasn’t started classes yet for this year (mostly west coast universities), telling them now that you want to be entered in the Transfer Portal before classes begin could mean that you won’t have your scholarship for this upcoming semester or quarter.

Unlike NCAA Division I athletes, NCAA Division II athletes must receive permission from their current coaching staff and athletic department before coaches at other NCAA colleges can speak with them about a possible transfer.

If your coach tells you to sign a “voluntary withdrawal form” as a condition of obtaining permission to contact other schools, remember that signing that form gives your school the right to immediately cancel your scholarship.

Athletes at NAIA athletic programs do not have to request permission from their current coach or school before they inquire with other schools about a transfer opportunity. HOWEVER, those other schools will be required to inform the athlete’s current school that they have been contacted by that athlete. When that happens, the athlete will probably be removed from their current team immediately.

Do You Need Advice?

We have helped thousands of athletes navigate the transfer process to another college. Schedule a transfer consult online or by calling our office at 913-766-1235.

NCAA Division I and Division II Student-Athletes who receive notice that they have been awarded an “outside source” scholarship, should inform the compliance office at their university to avoid possible financial aid violations.

Here’s why:

New this year for NCAA Division I – Athletes receiving scholarships from “outside sources” may be limited to accepting no more than $1000 during an academic year, depending on the various criteria for selected scholarships.

Student-athletes who are already receiving a full scholarship from their university may be prohibited from accepting the scholarship (or may need to have other scholarships adjusted) so that they don’t receive more than their university’s “cost of attendance.”

What are Outside Source Scholarships?

Outside Source Scholarships can include those from local civic clubs, local high school booster clubs, mom or dad’s employer, corporate or philanthropic entities, and associations.

In most cases, there won’t be negative consequences for receiving such a scholarship, but it’s important to have everything verified and confirmed to avoid problems.

Do you Have Questions?

To learn more about scholarships in general, go to How we Help/Scholarship Issues.

For questions specific to your situation regarding combining athletic scholarships with outside source scholarships, schedule a scholarship strategies consult online or send an email to rick@informedathlete.com

September 1 of a high school recruit’s junior year “opens the door” for the following recruiting activities in selected NCAA Division I sports:

Baseball – Official and unofficial visits and receiving phone calls, text messages, and email or other direct correspondence

Women’s Basketball – Receiving phone calls, text messages, and email or other direct correspondence

Football – Receiving text messages and emails or other direct correspondence

Lacrosse and Softball – Official and unofficial visits, and off-campus contact by Division I coaches, as well as receiving phone calls, text messages, and email or other direct correspondence. Also, Division I coaches can accept incoming calls from high school juniors in lacrosse and softball starting Sept. 1 of junior year.

If you have questions about the recruiting rules for these or any other NCAA sports, send an email to rick@informedathlete.com or by calling 913-766-1235.

The most important factor in a Medical Hardship Waiver request is the quality of medical documentation to substantiate the injury.

The best case scenario for an athlete to be granted a medical hardship waiver is when the medical documentation from the actual time of the injury or diagnosis includes a statement such as: “This athlete is not released to return to full competition in their sport.”

When no such physician statement is included and it is unclear whether the injury is serious enough to be considered a “season-ending” injury, it is much less certain that the waiver will be approved.

The documentation can also be very important in the future if the athlete happens to become injured again and misses a second season of competition.

In that situation, it would be possible for the athlete to obtain an extension of their eligibility “clock” and add another year of eligibility. This is possible when an athlete has missed not just one, but more than one season of competition due to injury or illness.

How We Can Help

We prepare Medical Hardship Waivers when a college athletic department is not experienced with that process or they don’t have the time or manpower to prepare the waiver.

To discuss your athlete’s specific situation and their opportunity for a Medical Hardship Waiver or even an extension of their eligibility “clock”, schedule a consult online, by calling us at 913-766-1235 or sending an e-mail rick@informedathlete.com.

The “redshirt” rule is quite different for NCAA Division III athletes than it is for NCAA DI and DII student-athletes and can have major consequences if not known or understood.

NCAA Division III rules require that an athlete be charged with one of their four “seasons of participation” if they participate in a game or if they practice with their team after the first game of the season – even if they never appear in an actual game against another team during that season.

This happened to a client of ours last year. The athlete’s father contacted us to ask about his son’s redshirt season because he had left the team after just one week of the season.

However, since he continued practicing with the team after the first game, he was charged with a “season of participation” for that season, and had three seasons remaining rather than the four that the father thought he had.

If you have questions about redshirt rules or other eligibility issues for your student-athlete, schedule a confidential consultation online or call us at 913-766-1235.