Now that the 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.  There’s a lot of confusion about and we get many calls regarding what preferred walk-on status means for a student-athlete.

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 the team roster. At another university, it may only mean that they don’t have to go through an open tryout to join the team as a practice player.

What is more important for a preferred walk-on in certain sports and situations is whether the student-athlete was “recruited” to their university as defined by the NCAA.

This can be an important factor for a student-athlete transferring from a non-scholarship athletic program (such as from an Ivy League team or Division III) to a Division I program.

For NCAA Division I basketball or football athletes receiving an academic scholarship from their university, it can also impact whether the athlete has an opportunity to play for their team in their first year at that university.

Do you Have Questions?

If you have questions about the preferred walk-on status, or the definition of a “recruited athlete” and how it affects your athlete, schedule a confidential scholarship strategies consult online or contact us by calling 913-766-1235 or sending an email to 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.

Do you Have Questions?

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.

With NCAA DI & DII spring sport seasons starting up, we’re reminding college athletes and parents that any amount of participation in a game or contest against another team will count as a season of eligibility used.  (The NCAA DIII Redshirt rule is quite different). 

The only way to get that season “over again” is through a hardship waiver if the athlete incurs an injury or illness that is serious enough to be documented by a physician as a “season-ending” injury or illness.

There are also specific limitations for the number of contests that an athlete can participate in and still qualify for a hardship waiver.

To be fully informed on the rules and requirements for a Medical Hardship Waiver, schedule a Waivers & Appeals Consult online, call us at 913-766-1235 or send an email to rick@informedathlete.com.

Frequently, I consult with parents of college athletes about the academic eligibility requirements their athlete needs to satisfy in order to remain eligible at their current school or possibly transfer.

When they tell me “I withdrew from all of my classes prior to the drop/add date for that semester” I cringe. Because while that may have been a good idea from a financial standpoint to avoid paying more tuition than necessary for that semester, it could negatively impact the athlete’s future eligibility at an NCAA university.

The NCAA rules hold a student-athlete accountable for the academic requirements for that semester or quarter (as well as that academic year) when an athlete is registered for a full-time program of studies and “…attends the first day of classes for that term, even if the student-athlete drops to part-time status during that first day of classes.”

Before making decisions or taking actions to drop classes, an athlete should know the academic requirements and repercussions that could result. The academic requirements for a particular student-athlete can differ depending upon the rules of the college division they were previously attending, as well as the college division to which they plan to transfer.

It’s much better to know ahead and prepare than to make a rash or uninformed decision and regret it later. 

For a detailed and confidential explanation of those academic requirements, schedule an Eligibility Issues Consult online or by contacting us at 913-766-1235 or emailing to rick@informedathlete.com.

At the recent NCAA Convention, Division II delegates approved a change to the “season-of-competition” rule which will be welcome news to student-athletes who transfer to NCAA Division II colleges.

Effective immediately, a student-athlete transferring from any non-Division II school will be subject to the “season-of-competition” rules that were applicable to the college where the athlete previously competed.  This rule can be applied retroactively to the 2018-19 academic year.

In other words, if an athlete was not charged for a season of competition at their previous school – whether other NCAA division, an NAIA, or a junior college – they won’t be charged with a season of competition for that season upon transfer to the Division II college, even if those season of competition rules were not the same.

What exactly does this mean?

Here’s an example of how this rule will be of the most benefit to an athlete transferring from an NCAA DI school to an NCAA II Division school:

  • In NCAA Division I football, an athlete can compete in up to four games and still have that be considered a redshirt season.
  • Under the previous Division II transfer rules, if that football athlete transferred to a Division II college after playing in four games or less, he would have been charged with a season of eligibility used, even though the Division I university from which he transferred would not have charged him with the use of a season.
  • Now, with the new Division II rule effective immediately, the “season-of-competition” rule that applied to that athlete’s participation while he was attending the Division I university will be applied to his remaining eligibility at the Division II level.

Here’s an example of how this rule will be of the most benefit to an athlete transferring from an NCAA DIII school to an NCAA DII School:

First of all, it actually doesn’t change the rules impacting a transfer from a Division III program, but I believe it provides more clarity for such a transfer.

  • A student-athlete at a Division III college is charged with a “season of participation” once they participate in practice or competition during or after the first game of the regular season in their sport.
  • Even if they only practice and train with their Division III team after the first game of the season, but never appear in an actual game or competition against another college during that season, the athlete is still charged with a “season of participation” under the Division III rules.
  • If an athlete in that situation transfers to an NCAA Division II university, that athlete won’t be charged with a “season of competition” for that season in which they only practiced, but were still charged with a “season of participation” due to the Division III rules that applied when they were attending the Division III college. Instead, Division II rules would treat such as season as a “redshirt” season.

Do you have questions?

If you have questions regarding how rule change might affect your student-athlete, or for help in navigating the steps and academic requirements for a successful transfer in any sport, schedule a confidential transfer consult online, call us at 913-766-1235 or send an email to rick@informedathlete.com.

At the NCAA Annual Convention last week in Anaheim, the Division I Board of Directors and other leadership committees received an update from the committee studying the NCAA rules which will permit athletes to receive compensation for the use of their name, image or likeness (commonly referred to as NIL in social media).

The Board of Directors and leadership committees reaffirmed the following principles that will be used to guide the development of proposed legislation:

  • Student-athletes should not become employees of their schools
  • The rules regarding name, image, and likeness should be transparent and enforceable for all sports equally.
  • These rules should protect the recruiting process, as well as opportunities for women equally to those for male athletes.
  • College athletes should have the same access to opportunities as their peers who don’t participate in college sports as long as fairness in the recruiting process is protected.

Broad legislative concepts are due to be developed and available for discussion and debate within the Division I membership by the end of April.

Actual proposed rule changes which will lay out the specific conditions and guidelines for athletes to receive such compensation will likely not be publicized until late summer or next Fall. Broad legislative concepts are due to be developed and available for discussion and debate within the Division I membership by the end of April.

We will keep you updated as we learn more.

Junior college football programs that are members of the NJCAA can also start signing high school seniors to an NJCAA Letter of Intent (LOI) beginning Wednesday, February 5. (Note: All other NJCAA sports have a November 1 start date for signing an LOI.)

It’s important to note that unlike the NCAA National Letter of Intent (NLI), an NJCAA LOI can be issued to a recruit even if no athletic scholarship is being offered to the recruit.

As a result, even though a recruit who signs an NJCAA LOI may not be receiving any athletic scholarship funding, the recruit is still committing themselves to attend that particular junior college for one full academic year.

Once an athlete has signed an NJCAA LOI, they can’t sign with or contact coaches at other NJCAA colleges about a possible transfer until the recruit is released from their LOI or has completed one full year of attendance at that junior college.

Do you Have Questions?

If you have questions about either the NJCAA LOI or NCAA National Letter of Intent and how it affects your athlete, schedule a confidential scholarship strategies consult online or contact us by calling 913-766-1235 or sending an email to rick@informedathlete.com.

A signed National Letter of Intent is valid ONLY for high school recruits OR for junior college athletes who are going to an NCAA DI or DII program. The National Letter of Intent must be accompanied by an Athletic Scholarship Offer to be valid.

There is no such thing as an NCAA National Letter of Intent for an athlete who is enrolling as a transfer directly from another four-year college.

If an NCAA Division I or II program offers a National Letter of Intent to an athlete transferring directly to that university from another four-year college, there’s a mistake somewhere – either intentionally or unintentionally.

A National Letter of Intent signed in this situation is not valid.

We’ve recently become aware of at least two situations where an athlete transferring to an NCAA Division I or II program from another four-year university was sent a National Letter of Intent. We strongly believe that in at least one of those instances, the coaching staff was purposely trying to trick the athlete into thinking that he had no other option.

Do you Have Questions?

If you have questions about either the NCAA National Letter of Intent and how it affects your athlete or if you would like us to review your scholarship offer and National Letter of Intent before you sign, schedule a confidential scholarship strategies consult online or contact us by calling 913-766-1235 or sending an email to rick@informedathlete.com.

Wednesday, February 5th is the first day of the National Letter of Intent signing period for NCAA Division I and II football recruits.

Although NCAA Division I football programs had an “early” signing period in December, this upcoming period will be the first opportunity for Division II football programs to sign recruits to a scholarship for next year.

This signing period is open through April 1 for Division I football programs, but continues through August 1 for Division II programs.

If you have questions about either the NCAA National Letter of Intent and how it affects your athlete or if you would like us to review your scholarship offer and National Letter of Intent before you sign, schedule a confidential scholarship strategies consult online or contact us by calling 913-766-1235 or sending an email to rick@informedathlete.com.