Recently, the NCAA Division I Council extended the recruiting Dead Period through January 1, 2021.

A brief review of social media indicated that many athletes and coaches (high school, travel ball, and college coaches) are extremely frustrated with this decision. We completely understand that frustration.

The decision was made at least in part because NCAA leadership was concerned about coaches traveling across the country, as well as recruits traveling to visit campuses, and thereby increasing the spread of COVID-19.

Also, for what it’s worth, the last sentence of the NCAA press release about the dead period states:

“The majority of coaches associations also supported the extension of the dead period.”

So while a lot of frustration is directed at the NCAA, there had to be a number of coaches associations for different sports that were hesitant to travel or to have recruits visiting campus.

As a result of this action, coaches in all Division I sports are only allowed to:

  • Recruit by phone or video calls, text messaging, email, and other direct messaging.
  • Coaches can also review film and gather information on recruits by speaking with high school, junior college and/or club coaches, but are prohibited from leaving campus for recruiting purposes and can’t have face-to-face interaction with recruits or their family members.

It’s also not permissible during this Dead Period for Division I universities to offer complimentary admission for recruits or for high school or junior college coaches to a football or basketball game, or any other sports event that may take place on campus during this period.

Do you have questions and need assistance?

If you have questions about your athlete’s specific situation, we provide confidential phone consultations to answer questions and discuss options available to your athlete. Schedule a confidential Scholarship Strategies consult online, or you can send an email to rick@informedathlete.com or call 913-766-1235.

Student-athletes at NCAA Division I and II universities who receive notice that they have been awarded a “hometown” scholarship or one from other “outside sources,” such as from their local civic club or from mom’s or dad’s employer, should inform the compliance office at their university.

In most cases, there won’t be negative consequences for receiving such a scholarship.

  • However, athletes who are already receiving a full scholarship from their university may be prohibited from accepting the scholarship (or may need to have other scholarships adjusted) so that they don’t receive more than their university’s “cost of attendance.”
  • Also, student-athletes in NCAA Division I who are receiving scholarships from “outside sources” such as those examples above may be limited to accepting no more than $1000 during an academic year, depending on the various criteria for selected scholarships.

For questions about the combination of athletic scholarships with other scholarships, whether academic or from “outside sources”, schedule a confidential scholarship strategies consult, contact us at rick@informedathlete.com or call us at 913-766-1235.

The FAFSA form (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) for the 2021-22 academic year becomes available on October 1st

Should I fill out the FAFSA?

Yes! Here’s why. Whether you believe you won’t qualify based on family income or because your athlete is being offered a substantial athletic scholarship, you should know that some coaches and athletic departments require that the FAFSA be completed by all student-athletes.

That’s because those coaches and athletic departments are trying to stretch their scholarship allotments for each sport as far as possible.

Having their athletes qualify for other types of scholarships and aid assistance that might be available is a way for them to do this. That’s true in any year, but even more true now with loss of revenue and fewer donations from alumni at many colleges and universities.

Furthermore, to maximize their financial aid “reach” some colleges have policies that prohibit ALL students (not just athletes) from accepting more than one scholarship or grant so that more students can receive financial assistance.

When your athlete’s recruitment is becoming “serious” with a coach, be sure to ask about campus scholarship policies during a recruiting call or when you’re on a campus visit.

Note also that some states award financial aid on a first-come, first-served basis so the earlier you apply the better your chances might be to receive some aid.

Financial Aid and Scholarship Issues Can Be Confusing!

For more information on scholarships and financial aid agreements, visit our website: https://informedathlete.com/how-we-help/scholarship-strategies/

If you have questions about your athlete’s specific situation, we provide confidential phone consultations to answer questions and discuss options. Schedule a confidential Scholarship Strategies consult online, or you can send an email to rick@informedathlete.com or call 913-766-1235.

We encourage athletes receiving athletic scholarships (and their families) to review all scholarship documents, as well as any athletic department student-athlete handbooks and/or team policies regarding the conditions under which an athlete’s scholarship can be reduced or cancelled during the academic year.

Once the academic year begins, an NCAA athletic program can only cancel an athlete’s scholarship for limited reasons.

Because a “violation of team rules” can be vague and open to interpretation, it will be important for athletes and families to be knowledgeable about any athletic department or team rules provided to the athletes.

Here’s a recent example of some key wording from a scholarship agreement issued to one of our clients from an NCAA university:

“I am aware the amount of my athletics grant may be immediately reduced or cancelled during the period of the award if:

  • I miss an excessive number of classes, fail to complete an excessive number of academic assignments, fail to take examinations, miss meetings with the Academic Service Coordinator for Student-Athletes or otherwise neglect my academic responsibilities;
  • I break team rules, miss treatment sessions with the Athletic Training Staff, violate the Student-Athlete Code of Conduct, do not fulfill the terms of a behavioral contract or engage in serious misconduct bringing disciplinary action from XXX University.”

Need Advice?

If you have questions about your athlete’s scholarship agreement or other questions, schedule a confidential scholarship strategies consult online, or by calling 913-766-1235 or sending an email to rick@informedathlete.com.

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.

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

Due to the unique circumstances that are impacting academic calendars and plans for instruction at universities across the country, NCAA Division I leadership has approved a waiver which will permit D1 coaches to require up to 8 hours per week of virtual non-physical activities from their student-athletes through the Fall semester.

Student-athletes who are not on campus but are taking their coursework through online instruction can be required to participate in activities such as team meetings, “chalk talks”, film review, etc. for up to 8 hours per week.

  • Student-athletes must be enrolled as a full-time student in the Fall term in order to participate in these non-physical virtual activities.
  • Coaches must give their athletes at least one day off per week from those activities.

However, Coaches are prohibited from requiring virtual physical activities (such as observing via Zoom or FaceTime an athlete performing a drill or lift). This is due to an NCAA requirement that a sports-safety certified staff member must be physically present during such activities for health and safety reasons.

Do you Have Questions During These Uncertain Times?

As student-athletes and families consider the pros and cons of whether to enroll for the Fall semester if their university will have no in-person instruction and no sports competition, we will answer your questions and be an objective sounding board if you’d like to discuss the pros and cons. Schedule your confidential Scholarship Strategies Consult online or by sending an email to rick@informedathlete.com or calling us 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.

The July 1st deadline for NCAA Division I and II schools to notify scholarship student-athletes of the status of their athletic scholarship for the 2020-21 academic year has passed.

However, there are still some scholarship issues that can impact athletes – In this particular case, incoming baseball recruits.

On a recent baseball forum that I follow, there was a report of a coach who has reportedly asked multiple recruits to “release themselves” from their National Letter of Intent that they had signed with that program. Reasons that the coach cited for this request included:

  • The number of seniors who are returning for another season of eligibility
  • The number of juniors who would have likely been drafted this year but for the MLB draft being shortened to just 5 rounds.

As you can imagine, this puts these baseball athletes in a very difficult position.

(A similar situation could possibly happen in any sport, but it happens most often in baseball.)

An athlete in that situation could tell the coach that he intends to enroll at the university, work his tail off and receive the scholarship that he signed for.

As long as an athlete satisfies all of the university’s admission requirements and the NCAA requirements to be a Qualifier, the university would be required to honor that scholarship.

However, doing that places the athlete in a very awkward position.

He would already be starting off at a disadvantage by joining the team of a head coach and staff who expressly told him that they didn’t want him there on scholarship.

On the other hand, does this athlete have a realistic chance of finding another team to join and another university that will permit him to enroll at this late date?

If you have or know an athlete who is in a similar situation, let them know about our confidential Scholarship Strategies Consult, or have them contact us by calling 913-766-1235 or by sending an email to rick@informedathlete.com