We were recently contacted by a family whose son is a 2020 HS grad and hasn’t yet taken the ACT or SAT test.

The athlete and his family were not aware of how important his ACT or SAT test score is in the recruiting process.

Here’s why:

While athletic ability is important, an athlete’s NCAA eligibility status is a top consideration for many college recruiters. More coaches might be interested if they know a recruit’s ACT or SAT test score so they have an idea of their NCAA eligibility status and opportunity to be admitted into their university.

Some college athletic departments don’t allow an athlete to make an official visit to their campus if the athlete doesn’t have an ACT or SAT score on file (even though it’s not a requirement under the NCAA rules).

Upcoming ACT & SAT Test Deadlines

The deadline to register for the December ACT and SAT tests is fast approaching. November 8 is the regular registration deadline for both the December 7 SAT test and the December 14 ACT test.

There is a late registration period available for each test, but there will be an additional late fee required at the time of registration. Also, those registering late may not be able to get into their first choice of test location.

The late registration period for the December 7 SAT test is November 9-26, while the late period to register for the December 14 ACT test is November 9-22.

Do you have questions about your athlete’s eligibility status?

For questions about recruiting or academic eligibility requirements for NCAA or NAIA, schedule a confidential eligibility issues consult online, call us at 913-766-1235 or send an email to rick@informedathlete.com.

High School Athletes who are considering an NAIA college should be aware that the NAIA has increased one of their academic requirements to be immediately eligible as an incoming freshman.

To be eligible as an incoming freshman to an NAIA college, an athlete must satisfy two of three academic requirements:

  • A cumulative high school GPA of 2.000 or higher on a 4.000.
  • Rank in the upper half of the athlete’s graduating class per final official high school transcript.
  • A minimum ACT composite score of 18 or 970 on the SAT (Reading/Writing and Math sections) for tests taken on or after May 1, 2019.
  • For ACT tests taken March 2016 through April 30, 2019, the minimum composite score is 16. For SAT tests taken prior to May 1, 2019, the minimum required score is 860.

If you have a question about NAIA or NCAA eligibility requirements, schedule a confidential consult online, or contact us  at 913-766-1235 or rick@informedathlete.com.

Yesterday, the NCAA’s Board of Governors voted unanimously to begin the legislative process that will permit NCAA student-athletes to benefit from the use of their name, image and likeness “in a manner consistent with the collegiate model.”

This vote regarding the potential use of an athlete’s “name, image, or likeness” (commonly referred to as “NIL”) paves the way for student-athletes to potentially receive payment for their autographs, for personal appearances, and for their picture or image (and possibly their voice) to promote commercial products and services.

Developing these new rules will certainly be no easy task.

The Board in conjunction with a “Federal and State Legislation Working Group” has established a list of principles and guidelines to direct the work of the NCAA, conferences, and university representatives in all three divisions as they develop and propose appropriate legislation to be considered by NCAA member institutions.

Among these principles and guidelines are the following:

  • “Ensure rules are transparent, focused and enforceable and facilitate fair and balanced competition.”
  • “Protect the recruiting environment and prohibit inducements to select, remain at, or transfer to a specific institution.”
  • “Maintain the priorities of education and the collegiate experience to provide opportunities for student-athlete success.”

As you might imagine, I have many questions as to how this will play out over the coming months.

  • For example, how will the NCAA create rules that will allow campus compliance administrators to determine, much less enforce how much a student-athlete’s signature, personal appearance at an event, or use of likeness is worth?
  • How will standards be set such that universities with large alumni bases and/or that are located in large metropolitan areas with thousands of businesses won’t have a recruiting advantage over mid-major and smaller universities in the Midwest or great plains states because of the endorsement opportunities that will be available to athletes at those larger universities?

The Board of Governors has expressed a desire for each NCAA division to come up with new rules as soon as possible, but no later than January 2021. For the full NCAA press release, click on this link:  https://bit.ly/2JxUsu8.

We’ll keep you updated as we learn more.  In the meantime, if you have any questions call us at 913-766-1235 or send an email to rick@informedathlete.com.


We regularly hear from Junior College Athletes who transfer to an NCAA program and say they weren’t informed until weeks into the semester that they don’t meet the academic requirements to be eligible. 

What options does a student-athlete have in this situation? 

The best situation is for this to NOT happen.

If an athlete is informed before school starts, they may have the option to go back to the JUCO for one more semester as a full or part-time student to satisfy the academic requirements.

However, if the student-athlete has already started school at the NCAA school and they are declared ineligible, their options are limited and more complicated:

  • The student-athlete is stuck at that college and is now ineligible for their first academic year. He or she must now work to earn their academic eligibility to be able to compete next year at this college.
  • Also, because an athlete must be academically eligible when they leave their current school in order to be immediately eligible as a transfer to another NCAA member school, the student-athlete either needs to stay at this school and work to regain his or her eligibility there, OR
  • If the athlete chooses to transfer to another NCAA college before he/she regains eligibility where they are, then the athlete will be ineligible for their first academic year at the next college.
  • Another option is that the student-athlete could transfer to an NAIA college where it would be possible to regain eligibility after one semester.

How can an athlete AVOID this type of situation?

Make sure you are certified academically eligible by the school you are transferring to before classes begin.

How frequently does this type of thing happen?

More frequently than you would think. These are the type of situations I hate because they could easily be prevented.

How can you prevent this from happening to your athlete?

We frequently work with junior college athletes to make sure they’re eligible at their NCAA school of choice by doing a college transcript review.

If you have questions or need assistance, call Informed Athlete at 913-766-1235 or send an email to rick@informedathlete.com.

While some people believe that all college athletes who receive athletic scholarships receive “full-ride” scholarships, the truth is that athletes in the majority of college sports programs receive only “partial” athletic scholarships if they receive one at all.

Full Vs Partial Scholarships

A “full” athletic scholarship covers the following costs of college: tuition, certain course-related fees, room and board, and the value or provision of books.

A “partial” athletic scholarship will cover only a portion of those expenses. An athletic scholarship may not cover all student fees, and also may not cover things like parking fines, a single room in the dorm, library fines or late fees, etc.

Head-Count vs Equivalency Sports

In NCAA Division I, the following sports are “head-count” sports: men’s and women’s basketball, football, women’s gymnastics, women’s tennis, and women’s volleyball.

All other Division I sports, as well as all Division II sports, are “equivalency” sports. In equivalency sports, coaches can divide their scholarships up as they desire, as they long as they do not exceed the total allowable scholarship value available in their sport. A few examples in Division I are baseball with 11.7, softball with 12, and wrestling with 9.9 scholarships.

One athlete on the team may be provided with the cost of tuition, a second athlete on the team may be provided with room and board, and a third athlete on the team may only be provided the value or use of books.

A special note: NCAA DI Baseball has a requirement that the athlete must receive at minimum a 25% scholarship. No other sport has a minimum requirement.

What is NCAA “Counter” Status?

Any student-athlete who receives any amount of athletic scholarship is considered a “counter” per NCAA rules. Once a student-athlete is considered a “counter” there are situations in which other types of financial aid may be required to be “counted” as athletic financial aid.

Academic Scholarships & “Counter” Status

In addition, if a Division I student-athlete also receives an academic scholarship from their college or university due to their high school GPA or their ACT or SAT test score, the fact that they are already an NCAA “counter” may affect the value or receipt of their academic scholarship.

Once a Division I student-athlete is a “counter” all other financial aid received from their institution is required to “count” as if it is an athletic scholarship, unless the student-athlete qualifies for an exemption based on the level of their GPA, their class rank, or their ACT or SAT test score.

Outside Scholarships

Any scholarships that a student-athlete will be receiving from groups such as a Rotary or Kiwanis club, a church youth group, or a high school booster club should be sent to the financial aid office of the college the student-athlete is attending. Most of these scholarships are permissible, but should be sent directly to the college so they can be processed properly.

Do You Need Help?

If you have questions regarding financial aid or scholarship offers and how they might affect your situation, schedule a private, confidential consultation online or by calling 913-766-1235 or sending an email to rick@informedathlete.com

Every day we get questions about athletic scholarships. It’s obvious that there’s a lot of confusion about the rules surrounding athletic scholarships and financial aid.

Some of the most commonly misunderstood facts about athletic scholarships are:

  • An athletic scholarship is valid ONLY at the school that awarded it. Scholarships are not transferable from one school to another.
  • Verbal promises from a coach are not always honored and are not legally binding.
  • The National Letter of Intent is not the same as an athletic scholarship agreement. They are 2 separate documents.
  • Athletic Scholarships are not all for 4 years or full scholarships.
  • Rules about athletic scholarships are not the same at all college levels. In fact, the rules differ between junior college, NAIA, and even within NCAA divisions and within conferences and schools themselves.

Common Questions we Receive:

Can a coach take away my athletic scholarship during the school year?

At an NCAA school, a coach can only take away an athletic scholarship for specific, limited reasons including academic ineligibility, student misconduct, violation of team rules or voluntary withdrawal from the team.

At NAIA or Junior Colleges, the rules are not clearly defined. And what’s worse is that they may not require an appeal opportunity as the NCAA rules do.

Can I receive a combination of athletic and academic scholarships?

Yes, however, you should check directly with the compliance department of your athletic department to avoid possible financial aid limitations. For more information, read our blog article: “Outside Source” Scholarships – What you should know. 

Do You Have Questions?

As I stated earlier, there’s a lot of confusion and misunderstanding about college athletic scholarships and financial aid and how it all works together.

In a confidential phone or Skype consult, we will explain how your student-athlete could be impacted in various situations. We will also advise your student-athlete’s rights if the coach reduces or doesn’t renew their scholarship for the next year.

ALL information shared is private and confidential – nothing is shared with schools, coaches, etc. unless you specifically ask Rick to contact someone for info on your behalf.

Schedule your scholarship strategies consult online, call us at 913-766-1235 or send an email to rick@informedathlete.com.

I’m certain that our daughter would have fallen through the cracks and not been deemed an NCAA Qualifier without your help. We contacted you just in time so that we could advocate on her behalf with her high school and communicate effectively with her college. Her unique course load in high school made this a challenge. I’m excited to report that she’s been deemed a Qualifier and is competing now with her team.

Father of a D I softball player

The worst thing I had to do when I worked on campus was tell a student-athlete they weren’t academically eligible and couldn’t play their sport.

Eligibility issues affect student-athletes at all levels from high school, to junior college, and 4-year universities. Not knowing, understanding, and meeting the eligibility rules can have serious short and long-term consequences. Problems meeting the eligibility standards can set back and even derail a student-athlete’s entire athletic career.

Eligibility Rules are different at each level (NCAA, NAIA, and NJCAA), each division (NCAA Division I, II, III), and even at different conferences and schools.

Do You Need Assistance?

If you or your athlete is unsure about their eligibility status, we can help by providing a confidential private phone or Skype consultation. During the Eligibility Issues Consult, we will discuss your situation, answer any questions you may have and if needed, help determine your best set of “next steps.”

Schedule your eligibility consultation online, call us at 913-766-1235, or send an email to rick@informedathlete.com

In a recent post, we talked about impermissible benefits and gave examples of what the NCAA defines as impermissible benefits. https://informedathlete.com/how-impermissible-benefits-hurt-student-athletes/.

In this post, I share two recent high profile NCAA infractions cases in which overzealous boosters provided substantial impermissible benefits to athletes and recruits.

I also provide info on what athletes should look for or be aware of in order to avoid a situation that could damage or permanently terminate their eligibility.

If a student-athlete is ruled ineligible because of receiving impermissible benefits, reinstatement can only be restored by the NCAA. This is often a lengthy drawn-out process.

Georgia Tech Basketball Program

Two weeks ago, the NCAA Committee on Infractions announced penalties imposed on Georgia Tech’s men’s basketball program as the result of boosters providing impermissible benefits to a recruit and also to current members (at that time) of the basketball team.

In one situation, a former Georgia Tech player and a member of the Atlanta Hawks NBA team provided a visiting recruit with a trip to a strip club (including $300 cash), a meal at a club owned by another NBA player, and a visit to his own personal residence.

In the other situation, a person who had become “friends” with the Georgia Tech head coach provided two current players and a recruit with shoes, clothes, meals, and plane tickets valued at a total of over $2400.

The Georgia Tech program was penalized with four years of probation, the loss of one scholarship for each of the next four years, and no opportunity to appear in the NCAA or NIT post-season tournaments this season.

Brigham Young University Basketball Program

The Georgia Tech case reminded me of another announced last November involving the men’s basketball program at Brigham Young University. In the BYU situation, four boosters provided a total of more than $12,000 in impermissible benefits to one basketball student-athlete.

The Brigham Young men’s basketball program was placed on two years of probation and forced to forfeit one men’s basketball scholarship.

In both Georgia Tech and BYU, these rules violations occurred largely because the men’s basketball program allowed boosters the opportunity to have access to, and close interaction with, members of the team and recruits who were visiting campus.

Interestingly, the penalties imposed by the NCAA Committee on Infractions are more severe in the Georgia Tech case than they were in the Brigham Young case, even though the dollar value of the impermissible benefits was much greater in the BYU case.

What can athletes and parents take away from these examples?

  • If coaches and athletic departments are allowing boosters to have close contact with current players or recruits, such as having boosters travel with the team or providing access to the team locker room, athletes need to have their “radar” up to discern the possible intentions of that booster.
  • An athlete may think that it’s “not a big deal” to accept even a small benefit from a booster, such as an inexpensive meal or accepting a ride from a booster. If that booster also is a gambler, they now have their “hooks” in the athlete and may eventually pressure them to shave points or throw a game.
  • Even if the booster doesn’t have ulterior motives and simply made an honest mistake by providing a relatively minor impermissible benefit to an athlete, any teammate, roommate, girlfriend, etc. who knows about that violation could report that athlete to their coach or athletic department if their relationship goes sour. The athlete could lose their eligibility to compete, and their team may be required to forfeit any game in which that athlete competes after accepting the impermissible benefit.

Do you have questions?

If you or your athlete have questions about eligibility issues or what constitutes an impermissible benefit, schedule a confidential eligibility issues consult online, contact us at 913-766-1235 or send an email to rick@informedathlete.com.

In next week’s newsletter, there will be an article about recent NCAA Infractions penalties imposed on two DI universities because of boosters providing very substantial impermissible benefits to athletes and recruits.

Those types of stories “grab the headlines” when the value of such benefits amount to thousands of dollars. But athletes can also be ruled ineligible for even seemingly “harmless” benefits such as a booster providing them a ride or buying them a meal or a birthday gift.

An impermissible benefit or “extra benefit” is any benefit or arrangement provided to a student-athlete or their family members that isn’t specifically authorized by NCAA rules.

If a student-athlete is ruled ineligible because of an impermissible benefit, reinstatement can only be restored by the NCAA. This is often a lengthy drawn-out process.

Examples of impermissible benefits from a booster include:

  • A loan of money in any amount
  • The loan or use of a car, truck, or other transportation (even if the athlete reimburses the driver for gas or mileage)
  • Co-signing a loan with an athlete
  • A free or reduced-cost service not available to the university’s general student body (such as a free meal or movie, or a discount on a haircut or the repair of a car or bike)
  • Selling or trading team equipment or apparel (gloves, cleats, jerseys), or a bowl game gift or a conference or NCAA championship ring

If you have questions or concerns about impermissible benefits, contact us for a confidential consultation at 913-766-1235 or rick@informedathlete.com

On Monday, September 30, Governor Gavin Newsom signed California Senate Bill 206 which will permit student-athletes at California four-year colleges to accept compensation for the use of their name, likeness, or personal appearance which is contrary to current NCAA rules.

The Bill will not take effect until January 1, 2023.

The NCAA Board of Governors has stated their opposition to the Bill. Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith is chairing an NCAA committee that is tasked with review of the current NCAA rules regarding endorsement legislation and considering possible changes to those rules.

Reaction from Universities Outside the State of California

Initial reaction from athletic directors at major universities outside California is concern about the unfair recruiting advantage that California colleges will have. These universities are also expressing reluctance to schedule competition against California colleges in the future.

In fact, the California colleges and universities won’t be eligible for NCAA post-season competition if this issue isn’t resolved before Senate Bill 206 becomes effective in 2023.

My Thoughts on This Issue

Many are in favor of student-athletes having the opportunity to benefit from the exposure that they bring to their college teams. However, given my 25+ years working on-campus in NCAA compliance, I have many thoughts about how this will affect student-athletes and athletic departments as a whole.

Does a star athlete bring exposure to their team, or is it the other way around?

For example, would a star athlete at USC or UCLA have as much “value” when endorsing a product if they were instead playing for Cal Baptist or UC-Santa Barbara?

How will this affect student-athletes in non-revenue sports?

If local businesses that support a college athletic department choose to instead pay student-athletes directly for endorsing their business, could this result in fewer dollars from local businesses supporting the non-revenue sports like swimming, track and field, rowing, wresting and have a negative impact on those sports?

Will endorsements have an affect on the way an athlete competes?

Say for example, a star basketball player is receiving $100,000 or more from a booster to endorse that booster’s business. Will the player listen to the coach’s instructions if he’s told that he’s to pass to a teammate for the last-second shot or will he take the shot himself?

Will offensive linemen let the quarterback get sacked as retaliation if the quarterback isn’t sharing his endorsement dollars by purchasing meals or other items for the linemen?

Similarly, will the infielders and outfielders provide solid defense for a starting pitcher who’s receiving large fees for endorsements as the projected #1 pick in the upcoming major league baseball draft?

Could the colleges and universities in California choose to leave the NCAA to form their own statewide athletic governing body?

That would be possible, since the California community colleges already have their own California Community College Athletic Association which is completely separate from the National Junior College Athletic Association.

It seems to me, however, that such a move could severely damage the bargaining power and potential revenue from ESPN, Fox Sports, and other networks and streaming services that currently provide a substantial portion of revenues received by those NCAA universities.

In Summary

There are no specific answers to any of these concerns at this time, but it’s a topic that will be interesting to follow in the upcoming months and years.