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.

If you’re a college athlete who is struggling in a class, you may be thinking about dropping that class before the final exam. Before doing that, there are a number of things that should be considered:

  • Will dropping the class affect my current eligibility right now? (If it drops you below full-time status, you’ll become immediately ineligible for competition.)
  • Will dropping the class affect my eligibility next semester? (That depends upon your specific situation. For some football athletes, it could even effect your eligibility next Fall.)
  • If I don’t drop the class, but fail it, how might that effect my eligibility? (If your GPA drops too low, you may be ineligible for next semester.)
  • What other implications are there that I’m not thinking about?

In a confidential phone consultation, we can discuss your specific situation and the impact that dropping a course, or possibly staying in it but failing the course, can have on your current and future eligibility. Schedule your consult online, or call our office at 913-766-1235.

If an NCAA DI or DII student-athlete’s sport is baseball, softball, lacrosse, women’s water polo, women’s beach or men’s volleyball, they are allowed to participate in competition during the Fall portion of the season without using one of their four seasons of eligibility.

However, if that same student-athlete DOES compete in their regular season, they WILL be charged with a year of eligibility used.

If the student-athlete DOES NOT compete in their regular season, they WILL NOT be charged with a season of eligibility.

Also, under revised Division I rules, this exception can be applied retroactively if an athlete was previously charged with a season of competition for only Fall participation in the above sports.

Please note that these rules do not apply to NCAA DIII student-athletes. Contact us if you have questions about redshirting in Division III.

If you are or have a student-athlete who you think may be able to receive an additional season of eligibility due to the retroactive application of this rule, schedule a confidential Eligibility Issues Consult online, call us at 913-766-1235 or send an email to rick@informedathlete.com.

If you’re a high school athlete, are you sure that you’re on track to meet the NCAA academic requirements to receive an athletic scholarship and compete as a freshman?

The freshman academic eligibility requirements recently changed for NCAA Division I and Division II.

It’s very important to know the academic requirements that you’ll have to meet to be eligible for athletic scholarships, competition, or even practice during your freshman year.

Also, if you’re planning to start off at a junior college before moving on to a four-year college, it’s important to know that the academic requirements for a 2-4 transfer (two-year college to four-year college) to be eligible are different depending upon your Qualifier or Non-Qualifier status when you finish high school, as well as what level of four-year college you’re transferring to.

If you’d like us to review your high school transcript to make sure that you’re on pace to meet the NCAA academic requirements, contact us at rick@informedathlete.com or call 913-766-1235 to sign up for our Freshmen Eligibility and Transcript Review service.

Tyler Johnson (no, not the TB Lightning forward) should be getting ready for his second season of NCAA Division I hockey at the University of Maine.

But for 10 minutes and 26 seconds when he was 16 years old.

Instead, the 6-foot-3 goaltender is toiling as an Ontario Hockey League backup, the result of running afoul of NCAA eligibility rules in pursuit of his hockey dream.

NCAA eligibility should be a straightforward proposition for student-athletes — make the grades and the test scores, you play. But, for young hockey players looking at options including junior hockey, the route to college pucks is littered with potential missteps that could sideline a college career.

Cautionary Tale

Johnson was playing in the Tier I amateur High Performance Hockey League in 2014 when he was taken by Plymouth in the seventh round of the Ontario Hockey League’s draft. Like its Canadian Major Junior peers, the OHL is considered a pro league by the NCAA — but being drafted isn’t enough to impact eligibility.

Only when Johnson answered Plymouth’s call for an emergency start — the club was down two goalies at the time — did he become a pro in the NCAA’s eyes. The facts that he was still more than a month shy of turning 17, faced 11 shots, allowed three goals and then returned to amateur play — where he would remain through the 2015-16 season — did nothing to sway the NCAA when Johnson and Maine petitioned the organization to reinstate his eligibility.

Johnson played in 2017-18 for the OHL’s Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds after returning to that league with London in ’16-17.


Those events didn’t derail Johnson’s chances of getting his education paid. The CHL has a scholarship program that essentially pays a year of school for every year you play in the league. There are restrictions on where you can go and what is typically covered (tuition, books, etc.), but it is a perk that might sway some players on the CHL/NCAA fence.

Remember, though, that you could get cut after two CHL seasons, be left without college eligibility and only two years of school covered. Of course, the NCAA route — where partial scholarships are common — doesn’t always cover the complete bill, either.

Still, if the NCAA is even a possible option, young hockey players must know how to protect their eligibility.

The Basics of Eligibility

Essentially, most college sports programs are governed by the NCAA, an association whose reach extends to more than 1,200 colleges, universities and organizations across Divisions I, II and III. Its most basic requirements cover academics and amateurism:

Academics: In Division I or II, student-athletes must meet minimum criteria based on high school grades in core courses, and scores on the SAT or ACT. Weighted on a sliding scale, those scores are used to determine initial eligibility.

Prospective student-athletes must:

  • Take 16 “core courses,” including 10 before the seventh semester of high school, and achieve a minimum GPA in those courses.
  • Take either the SAT or ACT. Many athletes take it more than once, and can combine subscores from multiple test dates to achieve a qualifying score.
  • Submit transcripts and test scores to the NCAA Eligibility Center.

Amateurism: Though there are exceptions, the basic rule is that student-athletes can’t have played for money prior to enrollment. The NCAA (at eligibilitycenter.org) offers plenty of guidance on this issue; but, in the main:

  • Do not accept payment or gifts based on your athletic ability.
  • Do not sign a contract with a professional team or agent.
  • Do not allow your amateur team to cover any expenses beyond those deemed as actual and necessary.
  • Cover your own expenses when attending camps with pro teams (there’s a 48-hour exception to this rule, but if Day 3 rolls around, you’d better be paying your way home).

Knowledge Is Power

Ultimately, if you want an education through hockey, first educate yourself. Not knowing the requirements is a sure way to fall short of them. Not knowing your options is a great way to choose the wrong one. The key for junior hockey players is to protect all your options until the best path is obvious.

Guest Author bio: AJ Lee is Marketing Coordinator for Pro Stock Hockey, an online resource for pro stock hockey gear. He was born and raised in the southwest suburbs of Chicago, and has been a huge Blackhawks fan his entire life. AJ picked up his first hockey stick at age 3, and hasn’t put it down yet.

If you’d like more information or personal assistance regarding how the NCAA rules specifically affect your student-athlete’s situation, schedule a confidential consult online, call Informed Athlete at 913-766-1235 or send an email to rick@informedathlete.com

We recently consulted with a student-athlete who was planning to transfer to an NCAA Division II college and learned that she won’t be eligible this Fall even though she earned her Associates Degree at her junior college in May.

This student-athlete had not been informed that there are multiple NCAA academic requirements that must be satisfied to be eligible when transferring from one college to another and thought the Associates Degree was all that was needed.

Unfortunately, she was also required to earn at least 9 credit hours of transferable degree credit this past Spring at her junior college.

In fact, any NCAA Division II athlete – even one continuing at their same university – must have earned at least 9 credit hours (or 8 if their college was on the quarter system) in the Spring term to be eligible for competition this Fall. For a transfer athlete, those credit hours must be acceptable for transfer credit at the college to which the athlete is transferring.

If you’d like more information about your athlete’s specific situation regarding the continuing or transfer eligibility requirements, schedule a confidential Eligibility Consult online or contact us 913-766-1235.

Most colleges are getting ready to start classes for the Fall semester.

A question that we often receive this time of year is whether a student-athlete can withdraw from classes without a “penalty.” They might wish to do this because of second thoughts about their college choice, or due to injury or illness.

If your student-athlete has already started attending their college classes this Fall as a full-time enrolled student, withdrawing from their classes could negatively impact their athletic eligibility now and possibly in the future at their current college, or at a new college that they might transfer to.

Dropping a course later in the term to avoid a failing grade that will hurt the GPA may be OK, but encourage them to finish the semester or quarter before they withdraw or transfer to another college so that they don’t lose all their credits for this term.

To discuss a potential withdrawal situation and how it could impact your athlete, schedule a confidential Eligibility Consult online or contact us at 913-766-1235.

NCAA Division I student-athletes have a “5-year eligibility clock” during which they can compete for up to 4 seasons.

Student-Athletes at other four-year college divisions must complete their playing eligibility within their first 10 semesters or 15 quarters of full-time enrollment and attendance.

It’s important to remember that a student-athlete triggers the start of their 5-year eligibility clock or uses one of their 10 semesters or 15 quarters when they attend their first class while registered for a full-time course load – even if they drop to part-time status on the afternoon of the first class day!

If you or your athlete have questions about their eligibility “clock” and the impact of dropping to part-time status, please contact us to set an appointment by calling 913-766-1235 or by sending an e-mail to rick@informedathlete.com.