Three families contacted us recently because they had just found out that their college freshman athlete isn’t eligible because they didn’t earn 16 “core courses” in high school.

In one case, the athlete was ready to compete for his university but was told just as his season was starting that he wouldn’t be eligible this season.

For another athlete who was planning to transfer to an NCAA university this Spring from an NAIA college, he was told that he will need to attend another semester of college before being able to transfer to the NCAA university.

In each of these cases, the athlete had believed or been led to believe that one or more of their high school courses would qualify for NCAA eligibility. Unfortunately, those courses were not approved by the NCAA or hadn’t even been submitted to the NCAA for consideration by their high school.

While many high school coaches and guidance counselors do a good job of advising their athletes about college academic and athletic opportunities, we frequently hear about high school athletes who “fell through the cracks.”

In those situations, it’s common to hear that the coaches thought that advising on NCAA eligibility was the responsibility of the high school guidance office, while the guidance counselors thought it was the coach’s responsibility because the student was a member of their athletic team.

If you’re the parent, relative or coach of a high school athlete who wants to compete in college, don’t let them be the victim of a situation as described above. Schedule a confidential High School Transcript Review online or by calling 913-766-1235.

It has become more common over the last two years for high school recruits to take a gap year after graduation to continue training in their sport while taking college courses to get a start toward their college degree. The primary reason for this has been college rosters being overloaded with athletes who were granted an additional year of eligibility.

Is this still something that high school recruits should consider? In my opinion, yes!

Almost all college athletes were granted an additional year on their eligibility “clock” and were not charged with one of their four seasons of playing eligibility during the year 2020.

This was applicable to Spring sport athletes during the 2019-20 academic year and for Fall and Winter sport athletes during the 2020-21 academic year. In addition, many junior college and NCAA Division III athletes in Spring sports were also not charged a season for Spring 2021.

That is FIVE YEARS of college athletes who were given an additional year on their eligibility clock – from athletes who were already in their 5th year of college at that time, to athletes who were only college freshmen then and who now have an eligibility clock that might not expire until the end of the 2025-26 academic year.

If you’d like to have a confidential consultation about the possibility of a gap year for your athlete and factors that you may want to take into consideration, schedule a confidential Eligibility Issues Consultation online, or by writing to rick@informedathlete.com.

The annual NCAA Convention was recently held in San Antonio The following is a summary of the official rule changes or resolutions in each Division that will have the most direct impact on student-athletes.

NCAA Division I Changes

Transfer Waiver Guidelines Change For 4-4-4 transfer athletes who transfer a second time to a Division I university as an undergraduate:

When an athlete transfers to their third university (4-4-4 transfer) and wants to be eligible in their first year, they can no longer use the following arguments in a waiver application:

  • No Participation Opportunity
  • Financial Hardship
  • Misinformation From a Staff Member

The NCAA Division I Council voted unanimously that going forward, each waiver request will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis.

One of the following criteria must be satisfied to receive a waiver:

  • A demonstrated physical injury or illness or mental health condition that necessitated the student’s transfer (supporting documentation, care plans and proximity of the student’s support system will be considered), or
  • Exigent circumstances that clearly necessitate a student-athlete’s immediate departure from the previous school (e.g., physical assault or abuse, sexual assault) unrelated to the student-athlete’s athletics participation.”

Transfer Exceptions are not the same as Transfer Waivers and will still be available.

The most common Transfer Exception for a 4-4-4 transfer to be eligible in their first year at a Division I university is the Non-Scholarship or Non-Recruited Transfer Exception.

Student-athletes who qualify to use one of the Transfer Exceptions (other than the One-Time Transfer Exception), will now be allowed to enter the Transfer Portal at any time instead of having to wait for the Transfer Portal schedule for their sport.

Softball Athletes – Midyear Transfer Rule Change

A midyear transfer to a Division I softball program – whether from a two-year or four-year college – will no longer be immediately eligible in their first softball season unless they are transferring as a postgraduate student.

This rule takes effect on August 1 of this year and will impact the 2024 softball season.

NCAA Division II

Effective August 1, 2023, NCAA Division II Football student-athletes will be allowed to participate in up to three games during their initial year of enrollment at a Division II institution without being charged with one of their four seasons of playing eligibility.

In addition, Division II football teams will be permitted to scrimmage against another four-year college team as one of the three permissible scrimmage sessions that are allowed during Spring practice.

Student-athletes participating in this scrimmage will not trigger the use of a season of playing eligibility AS LONG AS the athlete was academically eligible during the preceding Fall term.

NCAA Division III

A resolution was approved (but not an actual rule change at this time) directing Division III governing committees to work with member schools and conferences to “…establish a hardship waiver process specific for mental health…”

The intention of this resolution is to establish a hardship waiver process for Mental Health that is separate from that of a Physical Injury Waiver.

The formal resolution also noted that the requirement for a Mental Health Hardship Waiver should allow for appropriate flexibility in supporting documentation since individuals “…suffering with a mental health condition often do not seek immediate support.”

Do You Have Questions?

If you have questions about these changes or any other questions about specific issues that impact you or your athlete regarding college athletics eligibility, scholarships, waivers or transfers, we invite you to schedule a confidential consult by calling us at 913-766-1235 or sending an email to rick@informedathlete.com.

That’s a question I’m frequently asked. It can be surprising how many times some athletes transfer from one school to another.

When an athlete can’t use the One-Time Transfer Exception to be immediately eligible at a new school, how are they able to be eligible as a multiple time transfer?

While we don’t know the specific circumstances of each athlete’s situation that you might hear or read about, here are some possible explanations as to how they may be able to transfer multiple times and not be required to serve a “year in residence” at their new university.

  • Second transfer could be the use of the Non-Scholarship Transfer Exception.
  • Second (or third) transfer could be using the “No Participation Opportunity” Waiver to be eligible at the next college.
  • 2nd or 3rd transfer could be transferring as a grad student and getting a waiver to be eligible as a grad transfer if they are pursuing a degree that wasn’t offered at their previous college.
  • Any of the above could also have been a possible option AFTER a 4-2-4 transfer from the first four-year college to a JUCO then back to another four-year college and then possibly using any of the options listed above.

Do You Need Advice?

If your athlete is thinking about a transfer, whether from one four-year college to another or from a junior college, we can provide a confidential consultation to explain the steps, rules and academic requirements to be eligible at the new college. Schedule a confidential Transfer Consultation online, contact us at rick@informedathlete.com or call our office at 913-766-1235.

We recently consulted with a student-athlete who transferred to an NCAA Division II university only to learn that she would not be academically eligible for competition even though she earned her Associates Degree at her junior college during the summer.

She thought that the completion of her Associates Degree at the two-year college was all that she needed to be eligible as a transfer and did not know that there are also multiple NCAA academic requirements that also need to be satisfied.

In this situation, this athlete wasn’t informed that she was also required to earn at least 9 credit hours of transferable degree credit during her last semester at the junior college. Because she didn’t have enough academic credit hours that were accepted as transfer credit, she wasn’t eligible to compete for the Division II university.

In fact, any NCAA Division II athlete – even a continuing student-athlete at their same university or one transferring from another four-year college – must earn at least 9 credit hours (or 8 hours if their college is on the quarter system) in the preceding term of full-time attendance to be eligible the following term. For a transfer athlete, those credit hours must be acceptable for transfer credit at the college the athlete is transferring to.

If you are have questions about your student-athlete’s situation, we can help.

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

The NCAA Division I Council recently approved and adopted revisions to rules specific to the sport of men’s wrestling which “…are intended to help all men’s wrestling student-athletes achieve an academic foundation during their initial year of college, while also helping to provide financial and well-being support.”

These changes impact the NCAA Division I rules for men’s wrestling regarding scholarships, the use of a season of competition and participation in outside competition.

Changes to competition rules effective with this current 2022-23 academic year:

NCAA DI Men’s wrestling student-athletes who are in their first year of college enrollment:

  • Will be allowed to compete in up to 5 dates of competition for their university without being charged with the use of a season of competition.
  • Will not be allowed to compete as an “unattached” wrestler or as a member of an outside amateur team during their first full-time term of college enrollment.
  • Will also be required to have a GPA of at least 2.000 at the beginning of each term of enrollment to be eligible for competition during that term. This rule applies regardless of whether the athlete will be representing their university in competition or will be participating in outside competition.

Each wrestler’s GPA requirement can be satisfied by having a cumulative GPA of at least 2.000 at the start of each academic term or by having earned a GPA of at least 2.000 during the preceding academic term.

Change to scholarship rules for those enrolling in Fall 2023:

  • High school seniors or junior college recruits who will have an opportunity to sign a National Letter of Intent with an NCAA Division I wrestling program will be interested to know that there is now a 20% minimum scholarship equivalency required for those first enrolling at a four-year institution on or after August 1, 2023. Wrestling becomes the second Division I equivalency sport to require a minimum scholarship value (after baseball).
  • For any Division I institutions that award athletic scholarships based solely on demonstrated financial need, their wrestling program will not be required to provide a scholarship value that is at least 20% of a full scholarship.

Need Advice?

Schedule a confidential Scholarship Strategies Consult online or by calling 913-766-1235 if you have questions about these new rules.

NCAA DI FBS or FCS Football student-athletes must successfully complete at least 9 semester hours (or 8 quarter hours) of academic credit during the Fall term to be fully eligible to compete during the following season.

An FBS or FCS athlete who does not earn the required number of academic credit hours during the Fall term “…shall not be eligible to compete in the first four contests against outside competition in the following playing season.”

There are options for athletes who don’t satisfy this requirement to regain their full eligibility for the following season if they earn additional credit hours prior to the beginning of the next Fall term.

We can explain this rule in more detail, including the requirements to regain full eligibility, in a confidential Eligibility Consult. You can schedule a confidential Eligibility Consult online or call 913-766-1235 for more information.

With fall sport practices starting recently at many colleges, and classes starting soon, here’s a sample of some of the questions we’ve received recently:

  • I’ve started practice with my college team, but I’m not sure this is the right fit for me and I’m thinking about leaving. When does my eligibility “clock” start?
  • Will I be considered a transfer athlete if I leave this team after starting practices at this college?
  • My new coach just informed me that I likely won’t receive any playing time this season. Do I have any options to transfer at this late date? Also, is there any way I can “protect” my scholarship for this year, or at least part of the year?
  • I just learned that I may not be able to be eligible at my new college this year because I don’t have enough transferable credit hours. Do I have any options for a waiver at this point?

If you or your athlete have questions like these, we can discuss your specific situation, answer your questions, and explain what options might be possible.

Schedule a confidential Eligibility Consult, a Transfer Consult, or a Scholarship Strategies Consult online at one of these links. Don’t worry about whether you’re choosing the correct category of consultation. Regardless of which category you choose, we’ll be sure to confidentially answer your questions and explain what options your athlete can consider.

You can also contact us directly by calling our office at 913-766-1235 or by sending an email to rick@informedathlete.com.

The academic requirements for a student-athlete to be eligible when transferring to a new university depend upon several factors, including the number of semesters when an athlete has been enrolled in college and taking classes as a full-time student. This is especially true for any athlete transferring to the NCAA Division I level.

When a junior college athlete who will be transferring to an NCAA Division I university has attended the junior college for more than two years, the academic requirements to be eligible can become even more complicated.

Here’s one reason why:

If you think of that situation this way, how will an athlete attending a two-year college that only offers freshman and sophomore level courses earn junior level course credits that will be acceptable for transfer to a Division I university if they’ve been attending a junior college for three years?

We can provide a confidential Eligibility Consultation to inform you and your athlete of the specific academic requirements that he or she will need to satisfy to be eligible when they transfer to a new university. Contact us at rick@informedathlete.com or call our office at 913-766-1235 for more information regarding our services.

When it comes to medical hardship waivers, the NAIA has recently taken a different approach.

The NAIA implemented a new “season of competition” rule last year that largely eliminates the need for a Medical Hardship Waiver for an athlete competing for an NAIA sports team.

Under this new rule, the NAIA will only charge a student-athlete with the use of a season of competition if the student-athlete participates in more than 20% of the maximum number of games or dates of competition in their sport.

As an example:

If an NAIA basketball athlete competes in no more than 7 games during a season (regardless of whether the games are at the varsity, junior varsity or freshman squad level), that athlete will not be charged with the use of a “season of competition” during that academic year under the NAIA rules.

If you have questions about this new rule and how it may impact your athlete – or a question about a hardship waiver for an athlete who has transferred to an NAIA program from an NCAA or junior college program – schedule an Eligibility Consult online. You can also call us at 913-766-1235 or send an email to rick@informedathlete.com for more information.