We regularly hear from Junior College Athletes who transfer to an NCAA program and say they weren’t informed until weeks into the semester that they don’t meet the academic requirements to be eligible. 

What options does a student-athlete have in this situation? 

The best situation is for this to NOT happen.

If an athlete is informed before school starts, they may have the option to go back to the JUCO for one more semester as a full or part-time student to satisfy the academic requirements.

However, if the student-athlete has already started school at the NCAA school and they are declared ineligible, their options are limited and more complicated:

  • The student-athlete is stuck at that college and is now ineligible for their first academic year. He or she must now work to earn their academic eligibility to be able to compete next year at this college.
  • Also, because an athlete must be academically eligible when they leave their current school in order to be immediately eligible as a transfer to another NCAA member school, the student-athlete either needs to stay at this school and work to regain his or her eligibility there, OR
  • If the athlete chooses to transfer to another NCAA college before he/she regains eligibility where they are, then the athlete will be ineligible for their first academic year at the next college.
  • Another option is that the student-athlete could transfer to an NAIA college where it would be possible to regain eligibility after one semester.

How can an athlete AVOID this type of situation?

Make sure you are certified academically eligible by the school you are transferring to before classes begin.

How frequently does this type of thing happen?

More frequently than you would think. These are the type of situations I hate because they could easily be prevented.

How can you prevent this from happening to your athlete?

We frequently work with junior college athletes to make sure they’re eligible at their NCAA school of choice by doing a college transcript review.

If you have questions or need assistance, call Informed Athlete at 913-766-1235 or send an email to rick@informedathlete.com.

I’m certain that our daughter would have fallen through the cracks and not been deemed an NCAA Qualifier without your help. We contacted you just in time so that we could advocate on her behalf with her high school and communicate effectively with her college. Her unique course load in high school made this a challenge. I’m excited to report that she’s been deemed a Qualifier and is competing now with her team.

Father of a D I softball player

The worst thing I had to do when I worked on campus was tell a student-athlete they weren’t academically eligible and couldn’t play their sport.

Eligibility issues affect student-athletes at all levels from high school, to junior college, and 4-year universities. Not knowing, understanding, and meeting the eligibility rules can have serious short and long-term consequences. Problems meeting the eligibility standards can set back and even derail a student-athlete’s entire athletic career.

Eligibility Rules are different at each level (NCAA, NAIA, and NJCAA), each division (NCAA Division I, II, III), and even at different conferences and schools.

Do You Need Assistance?

If you or your athlete is unsure about their eligibility status, we can help by providing a confidential private phone or Skype consultation. During the Eligibility Issues Consult, we will discuss your situation, answer any questions you may have and if needed, help determine your best set of “next steps.”

Schedule your eligibility consultation online, call us at 913-766-1235, or send an email to rick@informedathlete.com

In a recent post, we talked about impermissible benefits and gave examples of what the NCAA defines as impermissible benefits. https://informedathlete.com/how-impermissible-benefits-hurt-student-athletes/.

In this post, I share two recent high profile NCAA infractions cases in which overzealous boosters provided substantial impermissible benefits to athletes and recruits.

I also provide info on what athletes should look for or be aware of in order to avoid a situation that could damage or permanently terminate their eligibility.

If a student-athlete is ruled ineligible because of receiving impermissible benefits, reinstatement can only be restored by the NCAA. This is often a lengthy drawn-out process.

Georgia Tech Basketball Program

Two weeks ago, the NCAA Committee on Infractions announced penalties imposed on Georgia Tech’s men’s basketball program as the result of boosters providing impermissible benefits to a recruit and also to current members (at that time) of the basketball team.

In one situation, a former Georgia Tech player and a member of the Atlanta Hawks NBA team provided a visiting recruit with a trip to a strip club (including $300 cash), a meal at a club owned by another NBA player, and a visit to his own personal residence.

In the other situation, a person who had become “friends” with the Georgia Tech head coach provided two current players and a recruit with shoes, clothes, meals, and plane tickets valued at a total of over $2400.

The Georgia Tech program was penalized with four years of probation, the loss of one scholarship for each of the next four years, and no opportunity to appear in the NCAA or NIT post-season tournaments this season.

Brigham Young University Basketball Program

The Georgia Tech case reminded me of another announced last November involving the men’s basketball program at Brigham Young University. In the BYU situation, four boosters provided a total of more than $12,000 in impermissible benefits to one basketball student-athlete.

The Brigham Young men’s basketball program was placed on two years of probation and forced to forfeit one men’s basketball scholarship.

In both Georgia Tech and BYU, these rules violations occurred largely because the men’s basketball program allowed boosters the opportunity to have access to, and close interaction with, members of the team and recruits who were visiting campus.

Interestingly, the penalties imposed by the NCAA Committee on Infractions are more severe in the Georgia Tech case than they were in the Brigham Young case, even though the dollar value of the impermissible benefits was much greater in the BYU case.

What can athletes and parents take away from these examples?

  • If coaches and athletic departments are allowing boosters to have close contact with current players or recruits, such as having boosters travel with the team or providing access to the team locker room, athletes need to have their “radar” up to discern the possible intentions of that booster.
  • An athlete may think that it’s “not a big deal” to accept even a small benefit from a booster, such as an inexpensive meal or accepting a ride from a booster. If that booster also is a gambler, they now have their “hooks” in the athlete and may eventually pressure them to shave points or throw a game.
  • Even if the booster doesn’t have ulterior motives and simply made an honest mistake by providing a relatively minor impermissible benefit to an athlete, any teammate, roommate, girlfriend, etc. who knows about that violation could report that athlete to their coach or athletic department if their relationship goes sour. The athlete could lose their eligibility to compete, and their team may be required to forfeit any game in which that athlete competes after accepting the impermissible benefit.

Do you have questions?

If you or your athlete have questions about eligibility issues or what constitutes an impermissible benefit, schedule a confidential eligibility issues consult online, contact us at 913-766-1235 or send an email to rick@informedathlete.com.

In next week’s newsletter, there will be an article about recent NCAA Infractions penalties imposed on two DI universities because of boosters providing very substantial impermissible benefits to athletes and recruits.

Those types of stories “grab the headlines” when the value of such benefits amount to thousands of dollars. But athletes can also be ruled ineligible for even seemingly “harmless” benefits such as a booster providing them a ride or buying them a meal or a birthday gift.

An impermissible benefit or “extra benefit” is any benefit or arrangement provided to a student-athlete or their family members that isn’t specifically authorized by NCAA rules.

If a student-athlete is ruled ineligible because of an impermissible benefit, reinstatement can only be restored by the NCAA. This is often a lengthy drawn-out process.

Examples of impermissible benefits from a booster include:

  • A loan of money in any amount
  • The loan or use of a car, truck, or other transportation (even if the athlete reimburses the driver for gas or mileage)
  • Co-signing a loan with an athlete
  • A free or reduced-cost service not available to the university’s general student body (such as a free meal or movie, or a discount on a haircut or the repair of a car or bike)
  • Selling or trading team equipment or apparel (gloves, cleats, jerseys), or a bowl game gift or a conference or NCAA championship ring

If you have questions or concerns about impermissible benefits, contact us for a confidential consultation at 913-766-1235 or rick@informedathlete.com

On Monday, September 30, Governor Gavin Newsom signed California Senate Bill 206 which will permit student-athletes at California four-year colleges to accept compensation for the use of their name, likeness, or personal appearance which is contrary to current NCAA rules.

The Bill will not take effect until January 1, 2023.

The NCAA Board of Governors has stated their opposition to the Bill. Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith is chairing an NCAA committee that is tasked with review of the current NCAA rules regarding endorsement legislation and considering possible changes to those rules.

Reaction from Universities Outside the State of California

Initial reaction from athletic directors at major universities outside California is concern about the unfair recruiting advantage that California colleges will have. These universities are also expressing reluctance to schedule competition against California colleges in the future.

In fact, the California colleges and universities won’t be eligible for NCAA post-season competition if this issue isn’t resolved before Senate Bill 206 becomes effective in 2023.

My Thoughts on This Issue

Many are in favor of student-athletes having the opportunity to benefit from the exposure that they bring to their college teams. However, given my 25+ years working on-campus in NCAA compliance, I have many thoughts about how this will affect student-athletes and athletic departments as a whole.

Does a star athlete bring exposure to their team, or is it the other way around?

For example, would a star athlete at USC or UCLA have as much “value” when endorsing a product if they were instead playing for Cal Baptist or UC-Santa Barbara?

How will this affect student-athletes in non-revenue sports?

If local businesses that support a college athletic department choose to instead pay student-athletes directly for endorsing their business, could this result in fewer dollars from local businesses supporting the non-revenue sports like swimming, track and field, rowing, wresting and have a negative impact on those sports?

Will endorsements have an affect on the way an athlete competes?

Say for example, a star basketball player is receiving $100,000 or more from a booster to endorse that booster’s business. Will the player listen to the coach’s instructions if he’s told that he’s to pass to a teammate for the last-second shot or will he take the shot himself?

Will offensive linemen let the quarterback get sacked as retaliation if the quarterback isn’t sharing his endorsement dollars by purchasing meals or other items for the linemen?

Similarly, will the infielders and outfielders provide solid defense for a starting pitcher who’s receiving large fees for endorsements as the projected #1 pick in the upcoming major league baseball draft?

Could the colleges and universities in California choose to leave the NCAA to form their own statewide athletic governing body?

That would be possible, since the California community colleges already have their own California Community College Athletic Association which is completely separate from the National Junior College Athletic Association.

It seems to me, however, that such a move could severely damage the bargaining power and potential revenue from ESPN, Fox Sports, and other networks and streaming services that currently provide a substantial portion of revenues received by those NCAA universities.

In Summary

There are no specific answers to any of these concerns at this time, but it’s a topic that will be interesting to follow in the upcoming months and years.

Last week on our Informed Athlete Facebook page I shared a brief comment about an article from a University of Kentucky fan website. The article noted the football coach responding “No” when asked whether their injured quarterback would qualify for a medical redshirt for this season after receiving a season-ending knee injury on Sept. 7.

This is an example of athletes receiving inaccurate eligibility information from a coach, even one who’s been in the business for many years. After all, coaches are hired and paid to win games and they have other athletic department staff members who focus on eligibility issues.

The Case Study

The athlete in this case is Terry Wilson, quarterback at the University of Kentucky. (Note – Terry Wilson is not a client of Informed Athlete). He certainly should qualify for a medical “redshirt” (officially called a medical hardship waiver) for this season, and also for a 6th year of eligibility.

According to Wilson’s publicly available timeline:

  • He started at the University of Oregon by enrolling early in the Spring of 2016 for spring practice.
  • Redshirted during that freshman season of Fall 2016.
  • Transferred to a JUCO in Kansas and played there during the 2017 season.
  • He then transferred to Kentucky where he is now in his second season and year four of his Division I “five-year clock.”

His “clock” will expire after the 2020 football season.

However, because Wilson redshirted during his true freshman season at Oregon and has now suffered a season-ending knee injury at Kentucky, his situation certainly appears to meet the NCAA guidelines to receive an “Extension of Eligibility” waiver and 6th year to play football during the 2021 season if he chooses to do so.

Do You Need Help?

Many times, student-athletes don’t realize they qualify for waivers or appeals that could possibly extend their eligibility, make them immediately eligible for competition, or even allow for a scholarship or appeal hearing.

We provide confidential phone consultations to answer questions and discuss your specific situation. Schedule your consult online, call us at 913-766-1235 or send an email to rick@informedathlete.com.

Currently, sports betting is now legal in 13 states with 6 more states reported to begin within the next year. This comes after a 2018 Supreme Court decision to return such control to the states.

An NCAA athlete’s participation in sports gambling, or sharing information that can be used by sports gamblers, can result in being ruled ineligible by the NCAA. The rule also includes coaches and athletic staff members as well with possible penalties imposed on the school.

What the NCAA Gambling Rule Covers

The prohibition on betting includes not only college sports but also professional sports if that same sport is a recognized NCAA-sponsored sport. For example, betting on horse racing, while frowned upon, is not prohibited, while betting on professional baseball, basketball, football, etc. is absolutely prohibited.

The NCAA gambling prohibition also extends to fantasy leagues that provide a prize based on the outcome of league standings.

Participation in a “pool” as is common with the NCAA March Madness basketball tournament is also prohibited for those in NCAA athletics.

Athletes, coaches, and staff members of NCAA athletic programs must also be very careful not to share information that can be used by gamblers, such as key players being unable to play in an upcoming game due to injury, illness, or other reason.

Do You Have Questions?

As more states across the country legalize sports betting, the NCAA monitoring of athletes, coaches and athletic staff is becoming more difficult but I expect the NCAA to become more vigilant with penalties when caught.

If you have any questions regarding the NCAA rules on sports gambling, send an email to rick@informedathlete.com or call us at 913-766-1235.

When an NCAA DI athlete is considering a transfer to another DI university, there are 2 basic steps in the process.

Step 1:

Submit a written request to be entered into the Transfer Portal.

Prior to the establishment of the NCAA DI Transfer Portal last year, a student-athlete was required to get the permission of his/her coach for a request to speak to other schools. The coach could deny an athlete’s request for permission to speak with all other schools. The coach could also restrict an athlete from talking to particular schools.

This changed in October 2018. Now a student-athlete is required to submit a written request to their compliance office asking to be entered into the Transfer Portal. However, they should inform their coach before contacting the compliance office.

Step 2:

The school the athlete is leaving may be able to object to the student-athlete being immediately eligible at their next school. The student-athlete will then need to sit out a year of competition unless an appeal or a waiver is approved.

Why does a school do this?

There are several reasons that the original school can object. One of the reasons is when the student-athlete’s GPA is under 2.60.

When a transferring athlete has a GPA of 2.60 or higher, their team can receive an APR (Academic Progress Rate) “adjustment” so that they won’t lose the retention point for that athlete. As a result, that team’s APR won’t be negatively impacted by the athlete’s transfer.

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 transfer athlete have any options?

If the school to which the athlete is transferring agrees to file for a NCAA waiver, they have the potential to be ruled immediately eligible depending on whether the NCAA approves it.

Do you need help?

If your athlete is considering a transfer and their GPA is a concern or you have other questions, we can discuss your specific situation and help you develop a plan to navigate through the process.  Schedule a confidential consult online or call our office at 913-766-1235.

The NCAA’s Academic Progress Rate is a calculation that was designed to improve the academic standards of Division I sports teams and the progress of DI athletes toward graduation.

Each DI scholarship athlete has 2 potential points that they can earn for their team at the end of each semester that will impact each team’s APR rate.

They can earn one “eligibility point” for being academically eligible each semester, and they can also earn the “retention point” if they are returning to their university for the following semester.

As an example, the 27 scholarship players on a Division I baseball team can earn 108 APR “points” in an academic year (the “eligibility point” and the “retention point” for each semester, so 27 players x 2 points, x 2 semesters = 108).

If 7 players don’t stay in the program or aren’t eligible to return in the Fall, there will be 7 “points” lost for that team (108 potential points – 7 lost = 101).  101 divided by 108 is 93.5, so that team’s APR would be 935.

When a student-athlete transfers from a Division I university to another 4-year university, their team can lose a “retention point” unless the athlete has a GPA of at least 2.60.

The reason?  When a transferring athlete has a GPA of 2.60 or higher, their team can receive an APR “adjustment” so that they won’t lose the retention point for that athlete. As a result, that team’s APR won’t be negatively impacted by the athlete’s transfer.

If a team loses too many retention points and the team’s APR drops below 930, there are various penalties that can be imposed including not being allowed to re-award scholarships.  In the most serious cases, the school may lose opportunities for post-season competition.

If the team’s APR is already hovering near the 930 level that can result in penalties, it’s possible that the athletic department may object to the athlete’s immediate eligibility at their next university by requiring that they serve a “year in residence” unless their GPA is at least 2.600 or higher.

To discuss the steps for a transfer and the academic requirements involved, schedule a confidential consult online or by calling us at 913-766-1235.

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.

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.