In action taken by the NCAA Division I Council last week, Winter sport student-athletes were granted an additional year of eligibility regardless of the number of games they appear in or the number of games that their team is able to play during this 2020-21 academic year. Athletes must be eligible to compete this season to receive this additional year.

This is consistent with action taken previously for Division I Fall sport athletes, as well as for athletes whose Spring 2020 seasons were cut short.

As a reminder, this blanket waiver is different than the ones provided for student-athletes in Winter sports at NCAA Division II and III colleges and universities.

Winter sport student-athletes at D2 and D3 programs will be granted an additional season of competition as long as their team competes in not more than 50% of the maximum number of competitions that are allowed in a normal year.

  • In addition, D2 and D3 athletes who compete in individual sports such as cross country, golf, or tennis, must also be sure that they don’t compete in more than 50% of the maximum competitions even if their team as a whole did not.

Do you need advice?

If you have specific questions regarding how these NCAA actions will impact your student-athlete and would like to discuss options available, schedule a confidential Eligibility Issues consult online.

Back in early June, we wrote about the number of college sports programs that were being eliminated across the country. Many of those programs were/are being dropped at least in part due to the financial impact of COVID-19 on colleges and athletic departments nationwide.

Since then, I’ve continued to monitor the number of programs at the NCAA Division I level that are being eliminated.

Adding my unofficial count to the 19 Division I programs that were previously announced, I’m now counting 59 or 60 programs from Division I. (My count isn’t exact, because a few programs have been reinstated.)

The hardest hit programs were tennis, with 13 men’s programs being dropped and 10 women’s programs. Swimming and diving saw 10 programs dropped (6 men’s and 4 women’s) and golf lost 8 programs (5 men’s and 3 women’s).

What does this mean for your athlete?

If they are a high school senior hoping to be recruited to a college program, or are a current college athlete considering a transfer from a two-year or four-year college to the Division I level, it means that there will be even more limited roster spots in certain sports.

This just compounds even more those roster problems for Spring sport athletes who have already been granted an additional year of eligibility due to 2020 spring sport seasons being cancelled.

How we can help

We can assist by answering your questions, hearing your concerns, and discussing options to consider:

  • For a high school senior whose recruiting opportunities have been severely limited during the past 5 or 6 months,
  • For a two-year or four-year college athlete who is facing a crowded roster but is uncertain whether opportunities at other colleges will be any better.

Schedule a confidential Eligibility Issues consult or a confidential Transfer consult online, or contact us directly at 913-766-1235 or via email at rick@informedathlete.com.

Recently, I participated in a panel discussion via Zoom regarding the various impacts of COVID on college athletics, ranging from eligibility questions to Title IX implications of sports programs being cut due to budget impacts.

Here’s a brief summary of the information I shared with participants regarding actions taken and waivers approved by the NCAA:

2020 Spring Sports – Athletes will not be charged with a season of competition as long as they were eligible during the season

  • Athletes in D-1 granted an additional year of eligibility on their clock
  • Athletes in D-2 granted an additional year if in their last year of eligibility
  • Athletes in D-3 treated as if semester “didn’t happen”

Fall 2020 Sport Athletes

  • D1 athletes not charged with a season and granted another year of eligibility
  • D2 athletes not charged with a season and granted another two semesters of eligibility
  • D3 athletes not charged with a season if their team doesn’t complete more than 50% of max schedule. Also granted an additional 2 semesters.

20-21 Winter and Spring Sport athletes

  • D1 undetermined at this time
  • D2 athletes not charged with a season if their team doesn’t complete more than 50% of max schedule. Also granted additional 2 semesters.
  • D3 athletes not charged with a season if their team doesn’t complete more than 50% of max schedule. Also granted additional 2 semesters.

Do you need have questions or need advice?

Contact us at 913-766-1235 or at rick@informedathlete.com with questions about your athlete’s eligibility, or schedule a confidential Waivers & Appeals consult.

We realize that this is a very uncertain time for current college athletes.

  • Your sport rosters may be overcrowded.
  • Maybe your season has been postponed or cancelled.
  • Or perhaps your season is being moved from the Fall to the Spring.
  • You’re not sure whether your classes will be in-person or online as the semester progresses.

If you are a student-athlete who is considering a transfer or is considering taking a term off from college (or the parent of one) and would like to have a complete understanding of the rules that will impact your specific situation, we can help. We will answer all your questions, discuss options and help you develop an action plan to move forward in these uncertain times.

Schedule a confidential Transfer Consult or Eligibility Consult online or you can contact us at 913-766-1235 or rick@informedathlete.com.

When an NCAA D1 student-athlete is considering a transfer to another D1 university, there are two key steps in the process.

Step 1:

Submit written notice to the compliance office at your current university that you want your name entered into the Transfer Portal. The Transfer Portal eliminates the need to first obtain permission from your university to speak with coaches at other programs. However, it is still best practice to inform your coach of your plans to transfer before notifying your compliance office.

Step 2:

The university you’re leaving may choose to object to your opportunity to be immediately eligible in your first year at the new university. Such an objection could force you to sit out from competition in your first year of attendance unless an appeal or waiver is granted by the NCAA.

Why would a university state an objection?

There are a few different reasons that an athlete’s original university may object to the athlete being immediately eligible in their first year.

One reason can be when an athlete is following a former coach to a new job at another university.

Another primary reason is when the student-athlete’s GPA is under 2.60.

When a Division I scholarship athlete transfers,, the school’s team that they are transferring from will lose that athlete’s “retention point” for APR (Academic Progress Rate).

However:

  • When a transfer athlete has a GPA at or above 2.60, their original team can receive an “adjustment” and will be able to receive the retention point.
  • An athlete with a GPA below 2.60 won’t qualify for the adjustment and that will cause their original team to lose the retention point.

To learn more about how the APR can affect an athlete’s transfer, here’s a link to an article on our website: https://informedathlete.com/how-the-academic-progress-rate-apr-can-affect-an-athletes-ncaa-transfer/

Does the transferring athlete have any options?

  • The athlete may be able to take a summer course to raise their GPA above 2.60. However, where they take that summer course and when the grade is posted to their transcript can impact whether that will resolve the issue.
  • Also, if the university to which the athlete is transferring agrees to file for an NCAA waiver, the athlete has the potential to be ruled immediately eligible if the waiver is approved.

Do you need help?

If your student-athlete is considering a transfer at this point in the year and their GPA is a concern, or if you have other transfer questions, we can discuss the athlete’s options and help develop a plan to navigate through the process.

Schedule a confidential Transfer Consult online, or contact us at 913-766-1235.

The NAIA recently ruled that Fall 2020 will not be counted as a term of attendance toward the 10-semester or 15-quarter limit of eligibility for currently enrolled student-athletes.

  • Fall sport student-athletes who are entering their 10th semester or 15th quarter of full-time enrollment this Fall at an NAIA college will be allowed to return in Spring 2021 to compete in their final season of eligibility.
  • However, the Fall term will still count as a term of attendance for other NAIA rules, such as the GPA or number of credit hours required for eligibility.

Current NAIA student-athletes will only be charged with a season of competition during the 2020-21 academic year:

  • If they appear in more than 50% of the maximum number of contests in their particular sport,
  • OR if a student-athlete competes in NAIA post-season competition.

The NAIA will not charge current or prospective student-athletes with a season of competition if they participate in any outside amateur competition in their sport between May 16, 2020 to May 15, 2021.

  • This may especially benefit international athletes who may not be able to physically attend their NAIA university this year but would like to compete for an amateur team in their home country.

Do you have questions?

For questions about NAIA eligibility, schedule an Eligibility Issues consultation online, or contact us at rick@informedathlete.com or by calling 913-766-1235.

Actions applicable to all 3 NCAA Divisions

Schools are prohibited from requiring student-athletes to waive legal rights regarding COVID-19 as a condition of athletics participation.

Schools are required to review current insurance coverage for all student-athletes who are competing this fall and to provide that coverage information to student-athletes.

Student-athletes must be informed about the health risks involved and the steps being taken by their university to mitigate those risks as mandated in the Resocialization of Collegiate Sport document.

Actions specific to NCAA Division I

The Division I Board of Directors instructed appropriate committees and staff to work on plans for hosting scaled-back Fall-sport championships in the Spring. This work will include determining the size of each championship bracket, and the manner in which the championships are to be conducted.

All Division I Fall-sport athletes will be granted an additional season of eligibility and an additional year on their eligibility “clock” through a blanket waiver.

Any Division I athlete who chooses to opt out of their Fall sport due to Covid-19 must not have their scholarship cancelled or reduced for that reason.

Student-athletes who do not enroll full time during the 2020 fall term have flexibility in satisfying the academic progress-toward-degree requirements that must be met for eligibility in future terms.

Actions specific to NCAA Division II

Any Division II student-athlete who chooses by October 1 to opt out of their sport during the 2020-21 academic year must not have their scholarship cancelled or reduced for that reason.

If a Division II student-athlete opts out after October 1, their university can choose to continue the athletic scholarship for that athlete but will not be required to do so.

Division II student-athletes who opt out and don’t participate in their sport will receive an automatic extension of their eligibility by two semesters or three quarters.

Student-athletes who opt out after participating in competition, or who are not able to participate in more than 50% of their season will have the opportunity to receive a season-of-competition waiver so that they will not be charged with the use of a season. These athletes will also receive an automatic extension of their eligibility by two semesters or three quarters.

Action specific to NCAA Division III

Division III student-athletes who are enrolled full-time and choose to opt out of all activity in their sport (including opting out of all practices and team activities before the date of the first contest) will receive an automatic extension of their eligibility by two semesters or three quarters.

Do you have questions?

For questions about any of these recent NCAA actions and how they impact your specific athlete, schedule a confidential Eligibility Issues consultation online, or contact us at rick@informedathlete.com or by calling 913-766-1235.

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.