In the past week, we’ve heard about wealthy families who used illegal “side-door” tactics for their son or daughter to be admitted to prestigious universities.  In some cases, they were led by William “Rick” Singer to falsely represent their kids as highly talented or elite athletes.

Why did some families falsely represent their child as a student-athlete?

Most university athletic departments have a limited number of “exemption slots.”  These slots are typically used for talented high school athletes who fall short of the university’s standard academic requirements for admission. Coaches are often allowed to use a few of these “exemptions” for athletes they recruit.

Some of the federally indicted wealthy parents created fake athlete credentials and “bought” exemption slots.  Their kids bumped legitimate student-athletes who then lost the opportunity to be admitted.

There are many stories of legitimate student-athletes who were initially admitted through an exemption slot and then went on to excel in the classroom.  I’ve seen first-hand and talked to many of these former student-athletes whose lives were changed because of academic support systems that are available to student-athletes.

The missed opportunities is what has caused such outrage among families and those of us in the industry who do things ethically.

My Advice to Parents of High School Athletes

When high school athletes excel academically, they are at an advantage and stand a much better chance of satisfying the standard admission requirements. A strong academic athlete doesn’t have to worry as much about exemption slots and being bumped out of an admission opportunity.

So my advice to parents is that their high school athletes should focus on their academics as much or more than they do on their sport!

What Happens Next

Going forward, I believe we all should assume that ACT and SAT administrators are going to be looking much more closely at “unusual” circumstances such as those reported in this scandal.

If your athlete takes the ACT or SAT test at a location far from their home, there will be more scrutiny. In those cases, students will need to explain why and perhaps show “proof” of that reason.

As potential fall-out continues, I’ll be posting updates both on our website and through our weekly eblast.  If you have questions or concerns, give us a call at 913-766-1235 or send an email to rick@informedathlete.com.

I’ve been asked many times if any NCAA rules were violated in the college admissions scandal.  And If so, what penalties and how severe do I think the NCAA will impose on the universities involved.

NCAA Sanctions against University Athletic Departments as a Whole.  

I don’t believe that there will be significant sanctions against the university athletic programs as a whole.  The students involved aren’t actually college athletes.  That designation was used ONLY to get them admitted to their university.  As a result, the teams and athletic programs didn’t actually gain any recruiting or competitive advantage over other universities.

Also, because these students aren’t actual athletes, there shouldn’t be any issues of academic misconduct or impermissible benefits – at least as those situations pertain to NCAA rules.

NCAA penalties against individual coaches, however, may be a different story.

As we know, some coaches and athletic staff members have already been fired as a result of their involvement. An NCAA “ethical conduct” violation occurs if an athletic department employee provides false or misleading information and/or they refuse to cooperate in a continuing investigation.

NCAA Violations of Institutional Control?

I understand that these universities may not have exerted sufficient “institutional control” over their staff members perhaps as closely as they should have. However, none of these students actually joined an athletic team. As I see it, the athletic programs didn’t gain any kind of unfair advantage over other schools.

More to come?

It’s being reported that this might just be the “tip of the iceberg.”    As more information comes out and we learn more evidence and details, my opinion might change.  If so, I’ll post updated articles on our website and in our weekly newsletter.

In the meantime, our website has more information on NCAA Eligibility Issues and Recruiting Rules, and in our Blog articles.  If you have any questions regarding this article, please call our office at 913-766-1235 or send an email to rick@informedathlete.com.

An NCAA DI athlete was told by her athletic trainer that she would not qualify for a Medical Hardship Waiver even if she had surgery for her injury. The athletic trainer said it was because of her previous participation history.

The parents of this student-athlete contacted Informed Athlete to discuss.  They wanted to confirm the information given to their daughter and see what options were available.  In fact, the student-athlete IS eligible for a Medical Hardship Waiver.  If approved by the NCAA, this would give her the opportunity for another season of eligibility. The reason is that the applicable NCAA rule was changed last year.

This story isn’t shared to fault the athletic trainer, but to point out that the NCAA rules can change.  Sometimes student-athletes don’t get the most up-to-date information.

In many situations, a consultation with us can clarify what your athlete has been told and options that may be available. Give us a call at 913-766-1235 or send an email to rick@informedathlete.com.

We were recently contacted by the parent of a student-athlete who transferred to an NCAA Division II university to play her sport, but was then told she wouldn’t be eligible this Spring because she had not earned enough academic credit hours at her previous college.

This student-athlete had recently transferred to the NCAA DII school after two previous years as a general student at an NCAA DI university.

The student-athlete and her parents scheduled a confidential consultation with me to get an objective opinion and learn what her options were. During the consultation we discussed the details of her situation and the parents asked about the possibility of a waiver.  However, it soon became clear that a waiver would not be necessary because the Division II compliance administrator was applying the wrong set of transfer rules and requirements to this student-athlete’s situation.

I gave a copy of the applicable academic requirements to the student-athlete and her parents and they set up a meeting to share the information with the compliance administrator. They approached the meeting with a congenial attitude and were even-tempered and business-like in their approach. The end result was an apology from the compliance administrator who realized that she had been applying the wrong set of rules for this student-athlete.

As a former NCAA compliance administrator, I know that mistakes can happen but can usually be worked through with the school with a positive outcome which is exactly what happened in this case.

If you are a parent and have concerns about your student-athlete’s eligibility, we can provide accurate information, objective advice, and options available that are in the best interest of your athlete and family. To schedule a private consultation, call our office at 913-766-1235 or send an email to rick@informedathlete.com.

An NCAA Qualifier is a high-school athlete who has satisfied the NCAA academic requirements to be eligible as a Freshman.

If the NCAA Freshman eligibility requirements are not met, the high-school athlete is classified as anNCAA Non-Qualifier.  Reasons for this frequently include:

  • The high-school athlete didn’t take the NCAA required core courses.
  • Low GPA, SAT or ACT test scores.

A high-school athlete who is classified as an NCAA Non-Qualifier:

  • Cannot receive an athletic scholarship during their freshman year unless the requirements for “Academic Redshirt” are met.
  • Will NOT be eligible to compete with the team during their freshman year.
  • Will not be eligible to practice with the team or attend weight training with their team.

High-school athletes who go to a JUCO their freshman year as an NCAA Non-Qualifier:

  • Will NOT be eligible to transfer to a Division I program after just one year.
  • Will have more extensive academic requirements at the JUCO to be immediately eligible upon transfer to a Division I program (more required junior college courses).

If you’re unsure as to whether your high-school athlete is on track to meet the NCAA Freshman Eligibility Requirements, we can discuss your situation in a confidential consultation. Click here to schedule a confidential consultation or call our office at 913-766-1235.

We also offer NCAA Freshman Transcript Evaluations to assess if your student-athlete is on track and if not, we can provide an action plan of what they will need to do to achieve NCAA Qualifier Status.

This past week we received multiple requests from families for options their student-athlete can consider if he or she chooses to withdraw from all classes and leave their college now in the middle of the semester.

We often advise that the student-athlete not leave unless they have a well thought out plan in place.  The plan should include considering their current and future NCAA academic eligibility status, and how it affects their scholarship obligations.   A potential transfer to another school and the steps involved is another important consideration.

We have advised many student-athletes and prepared such a plan so that they don’t damage their future eligibility. When working with student-athletes and their families, the most important aspect of the plan is to review and discuss the academic eligibility requirements that must be satisfied to make sure they will be eligible at their next college.

If you have a student-athlete who is considering leaving their college before the “drop/add date” or one who just wants to plan ahead for a possible transfer at the end of this school year, we can work with and guide you through the transfer process. To schedule your personalized, confidential consultation, call our office at 913-766-1235.

What are the options for an NCAA student-athlete who will have enough credits for their undergraduate degree by the end of the Fall 2019 but will still have eligibility remaining?

An athlete in this situation could:

  1. Graduate at the end of the Fall 2019 term and then continue on during Spring semester as an undergrad pursuing an additional minor or a second baccalaureate degree.
  2. Delay graduation until May or June of 2020 by taking less than 12 hours of coursework.
  3. Graduate at end of the Fall 2019 term and begin a graduate program during the Spring of 2020.

PLEASE NOTE: There are requirements for each of these options that are specific to the individual’s academic situation. To learn more, schedule a confidential consult to discuss your student-athlete’s situation with Rick Allen and learn whether or not one of these options is possible.

Spring-sport NCAA DIII student-athletes should keep in mind that the NCAA DIII Redshirt Rule is quite different than it is for NCAA DI and DII athletes.

NCAA DI and DII athletes can practice with their team all the way through the end of the season and as long as they do not appear in an actual game representing their university against another team, it will be considered a “redshirt” year.

However, NCAA DIII athletes will use one of their four “seasons of participation” 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.

This happened to a client of ours – a Division III baseball player – a few years ago. 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 had already practiced with the team after the start of the season, he was still charged with a “season of participation” and had 3 seasons of eligibility remaining rather than the 4 the father thought he had.

If you’ve got questions about NCAA Redshirt Rules and Guidelines, send an email to rick@informedathlete.com or call us at 913-766-1235.

Current NCAA Division I student-athletes are required to have earned at least 6 credit hours during the fall semester (or quarter) in order to be eligible for the spring semester (or winter quarter).

In the sport of Division I football, athletes are required to have earned at least 9 semester or 8 quarter hours of academic credit during the fall term in order to be eligible for the complete 2019 football season. (Athletes who did not satisfy that requirement are ineligible for the first four games of the 2019 season, but have the opportunity to regain eligibility for at least two of those four games and possibly all four.)

Current Division II student-athletes in all sports are required to have earned at least 9 credit hours during the fall semester (or quarter) in order to be eligible for the spring semester (or winter quarter).

If you have questions about the NCAA academic eligibility requirements, especially for an athlete who must make up a deficiency to regain their eligibility, schedule a confidential eligibility consult or email consult online, or contact us at 913-766-1235 or by emailing rick@informedathlete.com.

During a recent client consultation, I looked at the athletic website for their college, where I noticed that the college has a Junior Varsity basketball team.

If you or an athlete you know is playing on their college’s junior varsity team – even if they never practice with the varsity or dress in uniform for the varsity games – be aware that the athlete will be using one of their four seasons of eligibility. This is true of four-year college and two-year college programs.

To discuss the NCAA eligibility rules and how they may impact you or your athlete, schedule a confidential consultation online, e-mail rick@informedathlete.com or call us at 913-766-1235.