The NCAA has revised the 2020 Freshman Eligibility requirements in light of the impact of COVID-19 on current high school seniors.

These changes are in place only for 2020 high school graduates whose high schools either moved to online instruction or closed down classes for the spring semester. Another factor is the cancellation of ACT and SAT testing opportunities.

The following is a summary of the key factors that will trigger an “automatic waiver” by the NCAA.

Division I:

For 2020 HS Grads to be fully eligible and classified as a Qualifier:

  • Must have earned a 2.30 or higher GPA in 10 or more approved core courses PRIOR TO the athlete’s senior year.
  • Those core courses must include at least 7 courses in the subject areas of English, math and science.
  • Also, no ACT or SAT score will be required.

What about students who don’t satisfy the requirement for at least 10 core courses with at least 7 of those in the required subject areas earned prior to senior year?

  • Those students will be able to use courses completed during senior year as well as this summer, if necessary, to achieve the regular standard requirement of 16 total core courses.
  • Also, any students who are having courses graded as “Pass/Fail” this spring will be able to utilize those courses to achieve Qualifier status.

Division II:

For 2020 HS Grads to be fully eligible and classified as a Qualifier:

  • Must have earned a 2.20 or higher GPA in 10 or more approved core courses PRIOR TO the athlete’s senior year.
  • Also, no ACT or SAT score will be required.

What about students who don’t satisfy the requirement for at least 10 core courses prior to senior year?

  • Those students will be able to use courses completed during senior year as well as this summer, if necessary, to achieve the regular standard requirement of 16 total core courses.
  • Also, any students who are having courses graded as “Pass/Fail” this spring will be able to utilize those courses to achieve Qualifier status.

International Students:

International students with an expected Spring/Summer 2020 graduation date will be fully eligible:

  • By earning 10 or more approved core courses PRIOR TO the athlete’s senior year as long as they have a 2.30 GPA for Division I or 2.20 for Division II.
  • No ACT or SAT score will be required.

However, this adjustment will only apply automatically for international students who are presenting ONLY international academic credentials to the NCAA Eligibility Center. International students who came to the U.S. and were enrolled in a high school here, or who have taken class through a U.S. online school, are NOT included in this scenario.

What about International students who don’t satisfy the requirement for at least 10 core courses prior to senior year or who took courses through some U.S. schools?

  • Students will be able to use courses completed during senior year to achieve the regular standard requirement of earning 16 total core courses.

If you have questions about how these adjustments may impact your student-athlete, purchase and schedule an Eligibility Issues Consult online, or send an email to rick@informedathlete.com.

High school athletes must satisfy the NCAA academic requirements to be certified as a Qualifier and be eligible to compete and receive an athletic scholarship in their freshman year at an NCAA Division I or Division II university.

High schools shifting to online instruction or taking other action due to COVID-19 could have a negative impact on a recruit’s opportunity to satisfy the academic requirements for Division I and Division II eligibility.

As of the date of this post,  the NCAA Eligibility Center has not yet issued any official changes or adjustments to these academic requirements. However, the Eligibility Center will be conferring with NCAA Division I and II governing committees and is expected to release information on possible changes soon.

High school recruits and families should be aware that the NCAA freshman academic requirements to be certified as a Qualifier are also important if your athlete is planning to attend a two-year college before transferring to an NCAA university.

Recruits who are not certified as an NCAA Qualifier by the Eligibility Center will have more extensive academic requirements to satisfy while attending a two-year college in order to be eligible when they transfer to an NCAA university.

Do You Have Questions?

If you are concerned about the impact of online instruction on your academic eligibility, we offer confidential phone consultations. We’ll answer all your questions, discuss the possible impact on your athlete’s eligibility due to COVID-19, and suggest options for your athlete to consider. Schedule a confidential Eligibility Issues consult online here, call us at 913-766-1235 or send an email to rick@informedathlete.com.

Junior College Athletes have been granted another year of eligibility by the NJCAA just as current NCAA athletes have.

If a junior college athlete who was already in their second season THIS YEAR returns to their school for another year to play what will be their second season of eligibility, there could be potential academic eligibility repercussions when they want to transfer on to a 4-year college.

  • 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 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.

If your junior college athlete is in this situation and needs assistance, we can review and discuss the academic eligibility requirements and options available in a confidential phone session.  Schedule your confidential Eligibility Issues Consultation online, call us at 913-766-1235 or send an email to rick@informedathlete.com.

The NCAA Division I Council has voted to permit all NCAA Division I spring sport student-athletes to treat this season as a redshirt year.

  • Spring sport student-athletes who would have exhausted their college eligibility this spring will also have the opportunity to return next year for another season if they so choose.
  • However, the Council did NOT grant another season of eligibility for Division I winter sport student-athletes since those teams were able to compete through their regular season.

Flexibility Options for Funding Scholarships

The Council provided scholarship flexibility options for NCAA DI programs due to potential funding concerns. Many schools have already committed scholarship funds to recruits who will be enrolling next Fall.

This flexibility will only apply to spring sport student-athletes who would have exhausted their eligibility this season.

  • They will be allowed to receive a scholarship next year that won’t count against their overall team limit.
  • Also, coaches will not be required to provide an athletic scholarship at the same level that a student-athlete received this year.
  • In the sport of baseball, which is the only spring sport that has a mandated roster limit (35), teams will be permitted to exceed that roster limit by the number of athletes returning who would have exhausted their eligibility this season.

Impact on Transfer Athletes

So far, Division I has not clearly stated if they will honor an additional season of eligibility for an athlete who transfers from another university after having received another season where they were. I expect that they will do so just as Division II is doing (NCAA Division II Eligibility COVID-19 Update) but that hasn’t been specifically stated at this point.

Do You Need Help?

Contact us at 913-766-1235 or send an email to rick@informedathlete.com to arrange a confidential consultation session if you’d like to discuss your athlete’s options, or schedule a Scholarship Strategies Consult online.

The NCAA Division II Administrative Committee has confirmed the following eligibility updates as a result of COVID-19:

For student-athletes who were granted an additional season of eligibility at a Junior College, NAIA, or another NCAA Division, those athletes will be able to transfer to an NCAA Division II program and their eligibility status will be honored.

Current senior athletes at a Division II university who choose to return for another season next year can receive an athletic scholarship which will be exempt from counting against team limits during the 2020-21 academic year.

  • That exemption will only apply, however, for student-athletes who remain at their current university.
  • An athlete who receives an athletic scholarship upon transfer to an NCAA Division II program from another university must have that scholarship counted toward team scholarship limits for the 2020-21 academic year.

If your student-athlete needs accurate, objective information on how this affects their eligibility and options, schedule a confidential Eligibility Consult online or contact Rick Allen by calling 913-766-1235 or sending an email to rick@informedathlete.com.

Last week, I listened to a records conference call tin which NCAA Division I representatives provided updates and answered questions for a group of Division I athletic directors and conference commissioners.

Key takeaways from the conference call

On March 30, the NCAA Division I Council will vote on these issues:

  • Whether all Division I spring sport student-athletes will be able to receive an additional season of eligibility. They had previously agreed in principle to the “concept” of all Division I spring sport athletes receiving an additional year of eligibility, but no official decision has been made at this point.
  • Whether Division I winter sport student-athletes will be able to receive an additional season of eligibility.
  • Whether the scholarship limits for Division I spring sports will be increased for next year, and whether a 6th year of eligibility will be offered to all spring sport athletes or only to those who are currently in their last year of their “five-year clock.”
  • They will also address the impact of an additional year of eligibility for those student-athletes who transfer to an NCAA Division I university from another college level.

Will NCAA “Dead Period” be Extended?

Based on input from the NCAA’s Chief Medical Officer and the NCAA COVID-19 Advisory Panel, we should expect that the current NCAA “Dead Period” prohibiting in-person recruiting activity will be extended beyond the current imposed date of April 15. We should learn more about that after another NCAA conference call scheduled for April 1.

Transfer Waiver Issue

Discussion of a possible Transfer Waiver which will allow scholarship athletes in Baseball, Basketball, Football and Men’s Ice Hockey a one-time opportunity to transfer and be eligible the following year at another Division I school has been pushed back from the NCAA Division I Council’s April meeting to their June meeting.

This has obviously been a shocking week as the tremendous impact of the coronavirus continues to unfold. We’ve been receiving a lot of questions about the impact on the eligibility of college student-athletes as their sport seasons are being cancelled – in some cases right before or even during a game (Big East Conference basketball tournament)!!

What I Believe and Know Right Now

I do believe it’s quite possible that the NCAA and NAIA will grant a “blanket waiver” for student-athletes to have an additional season of eligibility if their season has been completely cancelled. However, that may depend upon how many games have been played and whether the season is completely cancelled or is “suspended” until further notice.

I was told yesterday that some smaller colleges were apparently “suspending the season indefinitely” but might return to play for the last 3 or 4 weeks of the season. They announced at that time that they may resume the season if they return to classroom instruction after a few weeks. In a case like that, I’m not sure what the NCAA will do.

In fact, as I was writing this I saw a tweet that “…no decision has been made yet by the SEC about the baseball season after March 30, despite the NCAA announcement to cancel the College World Series.”

Potential Impact on Athletic Scholarships

Let’s start with this underlying assumption (although I can’t guarantee that the NCAA and NAIA will treat this situation as I expect):

If an athlete meets the standard guidelines and conditions for a “regular” hardship waiver, I expect that the NCAA will grant those athletes another season of eligibility.

As a reminder, those conditions are that an athlete hasn’t appeared in more than 30% of their team’s games, hasn’t appeared in a game after the midpoint of the season, and wasn’t able to complete their season due to “circumstances beyond their control.”

But then if another season of eligibility is granted to a large number of athletes from a team, we have the ripple effect with questions such as:

  • How will that impact NCAA or NAIA scholarship limits in baseball and all other spring sports?
  • If scholarship players who the coach thought would be finishing their eligibility this year are able to return for another year, does he or she renew their scholarship?
  • Or do they tell some incoming freshman that their scholarship isn’t going to be available because of too many current players returning?? (After all, an NCAA National Letter of Intent signed by a recruit is a contract that basically means “I have the right to receive the scholarship value that was listed in the agreement I signed with your university as long as I am admissible to your university and meet all NCAA eligibility requirements.”)

What I’ve Learned from NCAA and NAIA So Far

There are obviously many unknowns about this situation. This situation has been described by some as “very fluid” with some changes being announced within hours of a previous announcement.

As I’m writing this, here is an excerpt from a recent statement from the NCAA legislative staff:

“…questions have related to a wide range of regulations including eligibility, membership requirements and student-athlete benefits.

Most importantly, conferences and institutions are encouraged to make decisions and take action in the best interests of their student-athletes and communities. Conferences and institutions should not be concerned about the application of NCAA legislation when decisions are being made in response to COVID-19.”

In my opinion, that statement means that we all need to be patient because the NCAA will be considering many factors and won’t be making quick decisions on these questions.

Also, my contacts at the NAIA national office told me:

We have to meet with our governing bodies to begin discussing any exceptions that may occur due to these circumstances. We will have phone calls starting tomorrow afternoon and I’m sure they will move into next week. Not sure when we will be able to share any news.”

Advice to Consider

  • Be sure that your athlete maintains their focus on their academic coursework to ensure that they have a chance to be eligible next year. While some athletes may become depressed or lose focus on their academics as a result of losing their season, if they don’t successfully complete their classes this semester, it can damage their eligibility for next year.
  • Some bedrock NCAA and NAIA rules won’t change if your athlete returns for an extra season next year. For one, they will need to be taking a full-time course load to be eligible for practice and competition next year. Will they be willing and able to pay for another year of college if they’ve already graduated and were originally planning to start their post-college life?
  • Because many colleges are moving classes online, make sure that your athlete takes steps to save all of their assignments and can track when an assignment or test was submitted. The last problem you want them to have is an eligibility issue because the professor didn’t receive a test or assignment by the required deadline or didn’t receive it at all.
  • In the very unlikely anticipation that schools might possibly “wipe out” their stats for this season, you may want to take a screenshot or photo of the team’s stat sheet on the athletic website to record how many games your athlete appeared in and how many total games were played by the team this season in case that’s needed for a waiver to get another year of eligibility.
  • A “blanket waiver” issued by the NCAA or NAIA will apply to all student-athletes who fall within the guidelines and requirements of the conditions stated in such a waiver.
  • For waivers that are specific to a particular student-athlete when their situation doesn’t fall under a “blanket waiver” the student-athlete will need their university to submit the waiver to the NCAA or NAIA on their behalf.
  • Follow the social media page(s) for your school’s athletic compliance office as they will be posting updates for student-athletes at that particular college. (By the way, you can follow us on Twitter @InformedAthlete or on our Facebook page.)
  • If an athlete is currently attending a junior college and receives a waiver for an additional year of eligibility from the NJCAA or the CCCAA, be aware that such a waiver may not be automatically honored by the NCAA (or NAIA) when a junior college athlete transfers to an NCAA or NAIA program. For example, academic eligibility at an NCAA program often depends in part upon the number of semesters that an athlete attended a junior college as a full-time student.

What’s Next

While it could be days or even weeks before we start to receive some definite guidance from the NCAA, NAIA, and NJCAA, we will be happy to provide as much advice as we can for those of you who are interested in a confidential consultation.

In a private consultation, we will discuss your athlete’s specific situation and provide options and scenarios so you’ll be informed and ready to move forward as things play out.

Schedule a confidential Scholarship Consultation online or by calling us at 913-766-1235 or sending an email to rick@informedathlete.com.

With March Madness quickly approaching, we remind all that while many states have now legalized sports gambling, it is still expressly prohibited for those participating or working in NCAA athletic programs.

An NCAA student-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 impacts coaches and athletic staff members at NCAA universities.

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 it may be 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.

Student-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.

If you are a parent of a high school athlete who is taking online courses of any kind, we advise you to make sure that those courses will be accepted as “Core Courses” by the NCAA Eligibility Center so that the athlete can be classified as a Qualifier.

We were recently contacted by the parent of a high school senior who just learned that nearly all of the courses that his daughter took online will not be accepted by the NCAA Eligibility Center.

Do you Have Questions?

For questions about NCAA core course requirements, schedule a confidential Eligibility Consult online, contact us at 913-766-1235 or send an email to rick@informedathlete.com.

We can also provide our Freshman Transcript Review Service to provide a written report on your athlete’s progress toward becoming a Qualifier to be eligible for a scholarship, practice, and competition as a freshman.

With the changes to the NCAA Division I transfer rules that have been implemented over the last 18 months, starting with the introduction of the Transfer Portal starting in October 2018 and continuing through to recent changes, some student-athletes have assumed that they can transfer and “automatically” be eligible to compete in their first year of attendance at another university.

Student-athletes who are or have been on an athletic scholarship at their previous school must remember that in order to use the One-Time Transfer Exception, or to receive a waiver from the NCAA to be immediately eligible, it is necessary that the previous school not have an objection to the student-athletes’ transfer.

Also, even for those student-athletes who have never received an athletic scholarship, there are certain academic requirements that they must satisfy to be eligible for competition in their first year of attendance at another university.

Do you Need Assistance?

Schedule a confidential consult online, call us at 913-766-1235 or send an email to rick@informedathlete.com to understand ALL the things your student-athlete should be aware of before considering a transfer to another university.