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

If a student-athlete is classified by the NCAA as a Non-Qualifier (based on their high school academic record and their ACT or SAT score), they are prohibited from competition, practice, and an athletic scholarship in their freshman year.

Non-Qualifier status also impacts the academic requirements that a student-athlete must satisfy at a two-year college to successfully transfer if they choose to start their college career at that level before moving on to a four-year university.

A proposed rule being considered by NCAA Division II for the 2021 NCAA Convention in January may change that.

This proposal will allow ALL NCAA DII incoming freshman student-athletes as well as two-year college transfers the opportunity to practice and receive an athletic scholarship in their first year of attendance at a Division II university.

However, while Non-qualifier status athletes would be able to practice and receive an athletic scholarship their first year, they would still be prohibited from competition.
If approved at the NCAA Convention, the rule will benefit Non-Qualifiers first enrolling at a Division II university after August 1, 2021.

We’ll continue to keep you updated on this and other new developments as they happen.  In the meantime, contact us if you have any questions by calling 913-766-1235 or sending an email to rick@informedathlete.com.

The NCAA Division II Administrative Council recently voted to permit D2 student-athletes to retain a season of eligibility during the 2020-21 academic year if their team can only complete 50% or less of the maximum permissible competition in their sport.

This is similar to action taken recently by NCAA Division III (noted in our newsletter of July 15),

With this waiver approved in advance, a Division II university will be allowed to automatically provide a season-of-competition waiver for their student-athletes as long as the following conditions are satisfied:

  • A team participates in no more than 50% of that sport’s maximum number of games or dates of competition during the 2020-21 academic year as a result of the continuing impact of COVID-19.
  • A student-athlete must be eligible for competition during the season.
  • A student-athlete must use a season of competition to receive the automatic waiver. (A redshirting student-athlete won’t be charged with a season so won’t need the waiver.)

If you would like to discuss how this Division II waiver may impact your student-athlete, schedule a confidential Eligibility Issues consultation online, send an email to rick@informedathlete.com or give us a call at 913-766-1235.

Last week, the NCAA Division I Council approved a very important change to the scholarship calculation rules that may benefit many student-athletes and families.

For Division I student-athletes who are or will be receiving an athletic scholarship in their sport, most institutional financial aid awards that are based on need or academic merit will be exempt from counting against a team’s scholarship limit starting this Fall.

Under the NCAA rules for Division I that have been in place for many years, when an athlete was receiving both an athletic and an academic or a need-based scholarship from their university, the combined total value of both or all scholarships had to be counted against the team limit in that sport.

That is unless the student-athlete had academic credentials to permit the academic or need-based aid to be exempt from the calculation.

Those academic credentials are/have been:

  • A cumulative high school GPA of at least 3.50 on a 4.00 scale (or a college GPA of at least 3.00 for a continuing athlete to exempt the renewal of an academic scholarship).
  • Ranked in the top 10 percent of the athlete’s high school graduating class.
  • A minimum ACT sum score of at least 105.
  • A minimum SAT score of 1200 (critical reading and math) for SAT tests taken before March 1, 2016, or a minimum SAT score of 1270 (critical reading and math) for tests taken on or after March 1, 2016.

With the new rule taking effect on August 1 of this year, academic scholarships will be exempt from counting against team scholarship limits regardless of whether an athlete achieved the standards noted above. Most need-based financial aid awards will also be exempt. This is basically the same rule that was approved for NCAA Division II two years ago.

If you have questions and want to discuss the impact of this new rule on your athlete ,schedule a confidential Scholarship Strategies consult online, send an email to rick@informedathlete.com or call us at 913-766-1235.

In some of our recent newsletters, we’ve been suggesting that athletes and families who are concerned about the impact of COVID-19 may want to skip attending college this Fall semester or this year.

Some have expressed concern about their university’s plan for instruction and/or the possible impact on their competitive eligibility if they don’t have a full sports season – or no season at all.

At levels other than NCAA Division I, athletes can preserve one or more semesters or quarters that will count against the 10-semester or 15-quarter eligibility “clock” if they’re not taking classes at all or are only taking a part-time course load.

However, in fairness, that’s only looking at things from an athletics perspective.

There may be other reasons why student-athletes should consider NOT skipping a semester or year of attendance – including having to possibly re-apply for admission or triggering student loan payments.

The link below will take you to a recent article explaining some reasons “Why Missing College This Fall is a Bad Idea.”

https://www.nerdwallet.com/article/loans/student-loans/missing-college-bad-idea

If you’d like to discuss the pros and cons of your athlete not attending college this Fall, schedule a confidential Eligibility Issues consult online or by sending an email to rick@informedathlete.com.

Updated 7/17/17 – The Trump administration has agreed to rescind rules it issued last week barring international students from being in the U.S. if they were taking classes only online, a rare reversal by the government on immigration policy.

This past week the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency (ICE) issued a “modification” to F-1 Visa status that could have a huge impact on international student-athletes (and their coaches and teams).

Effective for the Fall 2020 semester, “non-immigrant students” who are taking their college courses through an entirely online delivery method will not be permitted to remain in the US.

According to Monday’s press release from ICE, “Active students currently in the United States enrolled in such programs must depart the country or take other measures, such as transferring to a school with in-person instruction to remain in lawful status.”

As most of you know from our previous communications with you as a client or as a newsletter subscriber, while the ICE statement seems to read as if “transferring is easy – no big deal”, that’s obviously not the case!!

An international student-athlete transferring on short notice will find it extremely difficult to find another college that has scholarship money available for an unexpected transfer.

This decision by ICE will have very serious implications for those international student-athletes who are currently here in the US, or plan to arrive in the US, and then possibly learn that their university will only be providing instruction via online courses.

We can’t predict whether the NCAA will provide a special waiver for international student-athletes who will be impacted by this decision. But we can discuss options that international student-athletes can consider and how those options will impact their future athletic eligibility.

Schedule a confidential Eligibility Issues consultation online, or send an email to rick@informedathlete.com.

Unfortunately, we are starting to see more reports of colleges and universities that are cancelling Fall sports. Recent examples include Morehouse College in Atlanta, Bowdoin College in Maine, and UMass Boston. Morehouse is an NCAA Division II university, while the other two are members of Division III.

  • If your student-athlete’s season is cancelled by his or her college or university, will they attend that college this Fall?
  • Will they stay home instead where they may be “safer” from contracting Covid?
  • What will happen to their scholarship?

Do You Need Advice?

Due to the uncertainty of this time and the frequent changes being announced by colleges across the country, we may not have all the answers for you. However, we can talk with you confidentially to review key eligibility or scholarship rules to keep in mind as well as possible options that your student-athlete can consider.

Schedule a confidential Eligibility Issues consultation online, send an email to rick@informedathlete.com or give us a call at 913-766-1235.

Athletes who plan to attend a junior college and then transfer to an NCAA university to be immediately eligible must satisfy specific academic requirements while attending the junior college. 

These academic requirements will vary depending upon a number of factors. Those factors include:

  • Was the athlete an NCAA Qualifier based on their academic record in high school?
  • Is the athlete starting at the junior college as a freshman, or as a transfer from another college – especially if coming from a four-year college to do a 4-2-4 transfer back to another four-year college?
  • How many years or semesters is the athlete planning to attend the junior college? Will the athlete be considered a part-time student for any of those semesters?
  • Is the athlete thinking about attending the junior college beyond their second year of college enrollment?

Academic Eligibility Considerations for Current JUCO Athletes

Current junior college athletes who choose to stay at the junior college level for a second season of playing eligibility next year in their 3rd year of college attendance should keep a few points in mind:

  • Academic eligibility upon transfer to an NCAA program often depends upon the number of semesters that an athlete attended a junior college as a full-time student. Attending a two-year college for an additional year or semester beyond the normal two years could possibly have negative consequences on academic eligibility when a junior college athlete transfers to join an NCAA athletic program.
  • Eligibility upon transfer to an NCAA program also depends upon the number of credit hours earned during the last semester of full-time attendance at the junior college, as well as how many of those credit hours will be accepted as transferable credit at the NCAA university.

Do You Have Questions or Need Objective Advice?

If you have questions or need objective advice regarding your student-athlete’s academic eligibility situation, we can help. Schedule your confidential Eligibility Issues Consultation online, call us at 913-766-1235 or send an email to rick@informedathlete.com.

If you are a college athlete who plans to take summer courses from a college or university other than the one where you were enrolled this past semester, you should keep these points in mind:

  • If you are taking the summer course to gain additional credit hours toward your degree requirements, check with your academic advisor to confirm that the course can be transferred back to your current college or university and will count toward your degree requirements.
  • If you are taking the summer course to improve your GPA, contact your academic advisor or call the Office of the Registrar at your college or university to ask whether the summer course will impact your GPA, or whether it will only impact the credit hours you need for your degree. Such policies can vary from one college to another.

If you were on scholarship during the regular academic year, there is no requirement that your university provide a summer school scholarship.

  • If you were a scholarship athlete during the 2019-20 academic year, your scholarship from that university won’t cover summer courses taken from a different university.
  • In fact, your scholarship may not cover summer courses taken from the same university you attended during 2019-20. That’s because a scholarship for summer school is a separate agreement from your academic year scholarship.

Do you Have Questions?

If you have questions regarding how summer courses may impact your eligibility, especially if you will be transferring to a new college this Fall, schedule a confidential Eligibility Issues consult online, or by sending an email to rick@informedathlete.com or calling us at 913-766-1235.

During the call, Rick will review the eligibility rules that specifically pertain to your athlete and answer your questions. He’ll discuss the options that are available depending on the situation – including the possibility of an academic eligibility or extension of eligibility waiver.

All information shared is private and confidential. Nothing is shared with schools, coaches, or anyone else unless you specifically make a request.

As I was planning this week’s newsletter, I was preparing to write an article about the number of college sports programs that are being eliminated. Most, if not all, of these sports programs are being dropped at least in part due to the financial impact of COVID-19 on athletic department budgets and on overall college enrollment at many institutions.

Then, I opened the sports section of our local newspaper and an Associated Press sportswriter had already researched and written an article on this topic.

Here’s a link to that complete article:

https://bit.ly/2Xl0oOt

As of the writing of that AP article, the following number of sports programs have been dropped at each four-year college level.

NCAA Division I – 19

NCAA Division II – 47

NCAA Division III – 19

NAIA – 12

Student-athletes who were members of these teams or who had been recruited by these teams as incoming freshmen are stuck in a very unfortunate situation. If they choose to transfer to find a new team at another college, they don’t have much time to select a new college before classes begin this Fall.

For student-athletes who participate in spring sports, they face the additional challenge of trying to find another team when rosters may already be overloaded due to all college spring sport athletes being granted an additional year of eligibility after their seasons were cut short due to COVID-19.

These student-athletes – especially those at NCAA Division II, Division III, or NAIA – may want to consider taking off a semester or year from school, or only taking a part-time course load for a period of time, to have more time to consider their options.

We can discuss these possible options and explain the pros and cons to consider before your athlete makes a rush decision. All information you share and we discuss is private and confidential. Our focus is what is in your athlete’s best interest only.

Schedule your Eligibility Issues consult online or by calling 913-766-1235 or sending an email to rick@informedathlete.com.