Decisions and rulings issued by the college athletic organizations – especially the NCAA – are occurring frequently and will differ from one organization to another and from one division to another.

Here’s a list of general reminders that we want to provide for college athletes and families (in no particular order):

  • Before your athlete decides to opt out of participation or take a semester off from college attendance, make sure they check with someone – whether that is their college compliance director or through our Informed Athlete services. Making an uninformed decision could have consequences for their remaining athletic eligibility.
  • If you are receiving a scholarship for your sport, be sure you review the conditions under which your coach or athletic department can take away your scholarship. This is especially true if you are considering not taking classes this Fall due to Covid-19. Will your scholarship still be available for the Spring semester?
  • Check with your college to ask if you need to re-apply for admission if you take the semester off from classes and plan to return in the Spring. Also, what will be the impact on any academic scholarship or need-based financial aid that you will be receiving?
  • Because many colleges and universities won’t be conducting competition this Fall, be careful about engaging in any organized competition as an individual or for an outside team not affiliated with your college. There are rules regarding outside competition during the academic year and those rules vary between NCAA divisions as well as with the NAIA. (NCAA Division I approved a waiver for outside competition recently, but certain conditions must be satisfied to participate in such competition.)
  • Starting to attend classes this Fall as a full-time student, even if you drop to part-time status a few days later, will cause this semester to count as one full-time semester toward your ten-semester limit for NCAA Division II, III, or NAIA. Also, if you are an incoming freshman starting at a Division I university, attending classes as a full-time student will start your “5-year clock.”
  • An athlete who participates in organized practice sessions at their college or who begins the semester as a full-time student but then chooses to leave for another college will be considered a transfer student-athlete and will be required to satisfy the transfer rules to be eligible at their new college.

If you have questions about any of these reminders or any other issues that concern you, schedule a confidential eligibility consult online, via email at rick@informedathlete.com or by calling 913-766-1235.

Last week, we informed you about directives issued to NCAA schools and conferences by the NCAA Board of Governors.

Here’s a link to that article: https://informedathlete.com/ncaa-directive-to-di-dii-and-diii-schools-regarding-covid-concerns/

In last week’s article, I explained that “Athletes in all divisions must be granted the opportunity by their university to opt out of participation this year due to concerns of COVID-19.”

While I expect that the NCAA directive on giving student-athletes the opportunity to opt out from competition will extend into the Spring, the NCAA’s directive at this point so far only specifically refers to Fall sports and Fall championships.

No later than August 14, each NCAA Division must decide the rules that will apply to the eligibility of athletes who choose to opt out this year or for those athletes whose seasons are cancelled or cut short due to COVID-19.

I anticipate that student-athletes in those situations will be held responsible for satisfying certain conditions in order to retain their athletic scholarship and their eligibility.

  • Certainly, maintaining their academic eligibility by continuing to make progress toward their degree will be one of those conditions.
  • Participating in required team meetings and other team activities will also be required to retain their scholarship.

In addition, the Board of Governors has stated that “College athletes and their families must know what their eligibility status will be before beginning the Fall season.”

This means that NCAA athletic departments at all three divisions should be communicating with their student-athletes regarding the requirements that will need to be satisfied to maintain their eligibility moving forward, especially for those athletes who choose to opt out.

The Board also indicated that the three NCAA divisions “…must determine by August 21 whether their respective fall sports seasons and NCAA championships should occur this year.”

NCAA Division II and III have already announced that their Fall championships are cancelled.

The NCAA has mandated that their “return-to-sport guidelines” from the NCAA Sport Science Institute must be followed if competition is to take place this Fall.

Those guidelines are extensive and may be changed as needed due to evolving health concerns. Rather than list those extensive guidelines here, you can follow the link below if you’d like to review them:

http://www.ncaa.org/sport-science-institute/resocialization-collegiate-sport-developing-standards-practice-and-competition

Do you Have Questions?

These are unprecedented times with much confusion and uncertainty. If you would like to discuss your athlete’s specific situation, Informed Athlete can help lessen your stress, answer your questions, and discuss options available for your athlete. Schedule an eligibility issues consult online, by sending an email to rick@informedathlete.com or by calling 913-766-1235.

For NCAA Division I sports other than basketball and football, the NCAA has approved a waiver to permit student-athletes to compete in outside amateur competition during the Fall 2020 term IF their school has decided to not compete this Fall.

This waiver was granted in response to requests from student-athletes in such sports as soccer and volleyball who asked to compete on outside teams because their college teams had already announced that they will not be competing this Fall.

Currently, this waiver is only an option for Division I student-athletes. However, a similar waiver could be approved to allow Division II and III student-athletes to have the same option.

The following conditions must be satisfied for a student-athlete to participate in such outside competition:

  • Limits that normally apply in certain sports as to the number of student-athletes from a university who can participate on the same outside team (such as summer baseball) will apply under this waiver.
  • A university may not provide expenses for student-athletes to participate in outside competition.
  • Student-athletes must be in good academic standing at their university and if enrolled during the Fall term, cannot miss class to participate in outside competition.

If you have questions about this waiver and how it might benefit your student-athlete, schedule a confidential Eligibility Issues Consult online, write to rick@informedathlete.com or call us at 913-766-1235.

NCAA Division III leadership will permit D3 student-athletes to retain a season of participation for the 2020-21 academic year if their team can only complete 50% or less of the maximum permissible competition in their sport.

For those of you who may not know, Division III rules do not recognize a “redshirt” season for a student-athlete in the same way that NCAA Division I and II do.

In Division III, an athlete uses one of their four “seasons of participation” if they as much as just practice with their team on or after the day that begins their sport season – even if they never appear in an actual game for their team during that season.

With this blanket waiver in place, a D3 student-athlete will not be charged with one of their four seasons of participation for the 2020-21 academic year if their team is not able to compete in at least 50% of the maximum competitions or dates of competition that are permissible in their sport.

The Division III Administrative Committee noted that “The proactive blanket waiver allows student-athletes to make informed enrollment decisions prior to the academic year.”

If you would like to schedule a confidential discussion to review how this blanket waiver may impact your student-athlete, as well as how the season of participation rule overlaps with the Division III rule limiting participation to 10 semesters or 15 quarters of attendance, schedule a confidential Waivers & Appeals Consult online or by sending an email to rick@informedathlete.com or calling us at 913-766-1235.

Just hours after the announcement on Wednesday by the NCAA Board of Governors directing the three divisions to “…safeguard student-athlete well-being, scholarships, and eligibility…,” Divisions II and III announced that they are cancelling championships in Fall sports.

At the time of that announcement, 11 of the 23 Division II conferences had already announced that they will not compete during the Fall season.

The NCAA Board of Governors announced the following directives and guidelines on Wednesday.

1. Athletes in all divisions must be granted the opportunity by their university to opt out of participation this year due to concerns of COVID-19.

2. Athletes on a scholarship for their sport must have their scholarship honored by their university this year if they choose to opt out.

3. Each NCAA Division must determine no later than Aug. 14 the rules that will apply to the eligibility of athletes who choose to opt out this year or for those athletes whose seasons are cancelled or cut short due to COVID-19. (Divisions II and III have already done this to a large degree. See sections later in this newsletter regarding action already taken by Divisions II and III.)

4. NCAA schools will not be allowed to require athletes to waive their legal rights regarding COVID-19 as a condition of being allowed to participate in their sport this year (if the athlete chooses to participate this year rather than opting out).

5. The NCAA will establish a special phone number and email address where student-athletes and parents will be able to report situations in which their university is not honoring these directives and guidelines.

Regarding item #3 above, I anticipate that student-athletes who choose to opt out – especially those receiving an athletic scholarship – will be held responsible for satisfying certain conditions in order to retain their athletic scholarship and their eligibility. Certainly, maintaining their academic eligibility by continuing to make progress toward their degree will be one of those conditions. Participating in required team meetings and other team activities will also likely be required to retain their scholarship.

We will share any updated information and updates from the NCAA as they become available.

Do you have questions or need advice?

If you have questions or want to discuss your athlete’s specific situation, schedule a confidential Eligibility Issues Consultation online, call us at 913-766-1235 or send an email to rick@informedathlete.com