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.

The NCAA Board of Governors announced the following directives and guidelines on Wednesday.

1. 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.

2. Athletes on a scholarship for their sport must have their scholarship honored by their university this year if they choose to opt out.

3. Each NCAA Division must determine no later than Aug. 14 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. (Divisions II and III have already done this to a large degree. See sections later in this newsletter regarding action already taken by Divisions II and III.)

4. NCAA schools will not be allowed to require athletes to waive their legal rights regarding COVID-19 as a condition of being allowed to participate in their sport this year (if the athlete chooses to participate this year rather than opting out).

5. The NCAA will establish a special phone number and email address where student-athletes and parents will be able to report situations in which their university is not honoring these directives and guidelines.

Regarding item #3 above, I anticipate that student-athletes who choose to opt out – especially those receiving an athletic scholarship – 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 likely be required to retain their scholarship.

We will share any updated information and updates from the NCAA as they become available.

Do you have questions or need advice?

If you have questions or want to discuss your athlete’s specific situation, schedule a confidential Eligibility Issues Consultation online, call us at 913-766-1235 or send an email to rick@informedathlete.com

If a student-athlete is classified by the NCAA as a Non-Qualifier (based on their high school academic record and their ACT or SAT score), they are prohibited from competition, practice, and an athletic scholarship in their freshman year.

Non-Qualifier status also impacts the academic requirements that a student-athlete must satisfy at a two-year college to successfully transfer if they choose to start their college career at that level before moving on to a four-year university.

A proposed rule being considered by NCAA Division II for the 2021 NCAA Convention in January may change that.

This proposal will allow ALL NCAA DII incoming freshman student-athletes as well as two-year college transfers the opportunity to practice and receive an athletic scholarship in their first year of attendance at a Division II university.

However, while Non-qualifier status athletes would be able to practice and receive an athletic scholarship their first year, they would still be prohibited from competition.
If approved at the NCAA Convention, the rule will benefit Non-Qualifiers first enrolling at a Division II university after August 1, 2021.

We’ll continue to keep you updated on this and other new developments as they happen.  In the meantime, contact us if you have any questions by calling 913-766-1235 or sending an email to rick@informedathlete.com.

The NCAA Division II Administrative Council recently voted to permit D2 student-athletes to retain a season of eligibility during the 2020-21 academic year if their team can only complete 50% or less of the maximum permissible competition in their sport.

This is similar to action taken recently by NCAA Division III (noted in our newsletter of July 15),

With this waiver approved in advance, a Division II university will be allowed to automatically provide a season-of-competition waiver for their student-athletes as long as the following conditions are satisfied:

  • A team participates in no more than 50% of that sport’s maximum number of games or dates of competition during the 2020-21 academic year as a result of the continuing impact of COVID-19.
  • A student-athlete must be eligible for competition during the season.
  • A student-athlete must use a season of competition to receive the automatic waiver. (A redshirting student-athlete won’t be charged with a season so won’t need the waiver.)

If you would like to discuss how this Division II waiver may impact your student-athlete, schedule a confidential Eligibility Issues consultation online, send an email to rick@informedathlete.com or give us a call at 913-766-1235.

Last week, the NCAA Division I Council approved a very important change to the scholarship calculation rules that may benefit many student-athletes and families.

For Division I student-athletes who are or will be receiving an athletic scholarship in their sport, most institutional financial aid awards that are based on need or academic merit will be exempt from counting against a team’s scholarship limit starting this Fall.

Under the NCAA rules for Division I that have been in place for many years, when an athlete was receiving both an athletic and an academic or a need-based scholarship from their university, the combined total value of both or all scholarships had to be counted against the team limit in that sport.

That is unless the student-athlete had academic credentials to permit the academic or need-based aid to be exempt from the calculation.

Those academic credentials are/have been:

  • A cumulative high school GPA of at least 3.50 on a 4.00 scale (or a college GPA of at least 3.00 for a continuing athlete to exempt the renewal of an academic scholarship).
  • Ranked in the top 10 percent of the athlete’s high school graduating class.
  • A minimum ACT sum score of at least 105.
  • A minimum SAT score of 1200 (critical reading and math) for SAT tests taken before March 1, 2016, or a minimum SAT score of 1270 (critical reading and math) for tests taken on or after March 1, 2016.

With the new rule taking effect on August 1 of this year, academic scholarships will be exempt from counting against team scholarship limits regardless of whether an athlete achieved the standards noted above. Most need-based financial aid awards will also be exempt. This is basically the same rule that was approved for NCAA Division II two years ago.

If you have questions and want to discuss the impact of this new rule on your athlete ,schedule a confidential Scholarship Strategies consult online, send an email to rick@informedathlete.com or call us at 913-766-1235.

In some of our recent newsletters, we’ve been suggesting that athletes and families who are concerned about the impact of COVID-19 may want to skip attending college this Fall semester or this year.

Some have expressed concern about their university’s plan for instruction and/or the possible impact on their competitive eligibility if they don’t have a full sports season – or no season at all.

At levels other than NCAA Division I, athletes can preserve one or more semesters or quarters that will count against the 10-semester or 15-quarter eligibility “clock” if they’re not taking classes at all or are only taking a part-time course load.

However, in fairness, that’s only looking at things from an athletics perspective.

There may be other reasons why student-athletes should consider NOT skipping a semester or year of attendance – including having to possibly re-apply for admission or triggering student loan payments.

The link below will take you to a recent article explaining some reasons “Why Missing College This Fall is a Bad Idea.”

https://www.nerdwallet.com/article/loans/student-loans/missing-college-bad-idea

If you’d like to discuss the pros and cons of your athlete not attending college this Fall, schedule a confidential Eligibility Issues consult online or by sending an email to rick@informedathlete.com.

Updated 7/17/17 – The Trump administration has agreed to rescind rules it issued last week barring international students from being in the U.S. if they were taking classes only online, a rare reversal by the government on immigration policy.

This past week the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency (ICE) issued a “modification” to F-1 Visa status that could have a huge impact on international student-athletes (and their coaches and teams).

Effective for the Fall 2020 semester, “non-immigrant students” who are taking their college courses through an entirely online delivery method will not be permitted to remain in the US.

According to Monday’s press release from ICE, “Active students currently in the United States enrolled in such programs must depart the country or take other measures, such as transferring to a school with in-person instruction to remain in lawful status.”

As most of you know from our previous communications with you as a client or as a newsletter subscriber, while the ICE statement seems to read as if “transferring is easy – no big deal”, that’s obviously not the case!!

An international student-athlete transferring on short notice will find it extremely difficult to find another college that has scholarship money available for an unexpected transfer.

This decision by ICE will have very serious implications for those international student-athletes who are currently here in the US, or plan to arrive in the US, and then possibly learn that their university will only be providing instruction via online courses.

We can’t predict whether the NCAA will provide a special waiver for international student-athletes who will be impacted by this decision. But we can discuss options that international student-athletes can consider and how those options will impact their future athletic eligibility.

Schedule a confidential Eligibility Issues consultation online, or send an email to rick@informedathlete.com.

Unfortunately, we are starting to see more reports of colleges and universities that are cancelling Fall sports. Recent examples include Morehouse College in Atlanta, Bowdoin College in Maine, and UMass Boston. Morehouse is an NCAA Division II university, while the other two are members of Division III.

  • If your student-athlete’s season is cancelled by his or her college or university, will they attend that college this Fall?
  • Will they stay home instead where they may be “safer” from contracting Covid?
  • What will happen to their scholarship?

Do You Need Advice?

Due to the uncertainty of this time and the frequent changes being announced by colleges across the country, we may not have all the answers for you. However, we can talk with you confidentially to review key eligibility or scholarship rules to keep in mind as well as possible options that your student-athlete can consider.

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