Now that the excitement and media attention devoted to National Letter of Intent “Signing Day” for football recruits is starting to wear off, college coaches are going back to work by recruiting walk-ons to their teams to fill roster spots for kickers, punters, long snappers, and other positions to provide depth on their teams.

We frequently see announcements on social media that an athlete has accepted a “preferred walk-on” offer from a coaching staff – not just for football, but for many different sports.  There’s a lot of confusion about and we get many calls regarding what preferred walk-on status means for a student-athlete.

What exactly is a preferred walk-on?

That term actually means nothing more than whatever that coaching staff intends it to mean. At one university, a preferred walk-on may be guaranteed a spot on the team roster. At another university, it may only mean that they don’t have to go through an open tryout to join the team as a practice player.

What is more important for a preferred walk-on in certain sports and situations is whether the student-athlete was “recruited” to their university as defined by the NCAA.

This can be an important factor for a student-athlete transferring from a non-scholarship athletic program (such as from an Ivy League team or Division III) to a Division I program.

For NCAA Division I basketball or football athletes receiving an academic scholarship from their university, it can also impact whether the athlete has an opportunity to play for their team in their first year at that university.

Do you Have Questions?

If you have questions about the preferred walk-on status, or the definition of a “recruited athlete” and how it affects your athlete, schedule a confidential scholarship strategies consult online or contact us by calling 913-766-1235 or sending an email to rick@informedathlete.com.

Junior college football programs that are members of the NJCAA can also start signing high school seniors to an NJCAA Letter of Intent (LOI) beginning Wednesday, February 5. (Note: All other NJCAA sports have a November 1 start date for signing an LOI.)

It’s important to note that unlike the NCAA National Letter of Intent (NLI), an NJCAA LOI can be issued to a recruit even if no athletic scholarship is being offered to the recruit.

As a result, even though a recruit who signs an NJCAA LOI may not be receiving any athletic scholarship funding, the recruit is still committing themselves to attend that particular junior college for one full academic year.

Once an athlete has signed an NJCAA LOI, they can’t sign with or contact coaches at other NJCAA colleges about a possible transfer until the recruit is released from their LOI or has completed one full year of attendance at that junior college.

Do you Have Questions?

If you have questions about either the NJCAA LOI or NCAA National Letter of Intent and how it affects your athlete, schedule a confidential scholarship strategies consult online or contact us by calling 913-766-1235 or sending an email to rick@informedathlete.com.

A signed National Letter of Intent is valid ONLY for high school recruits OR for junior college athletes who are going to an NCAA DI or DII program. The National Letter of Intent must be accompanied by an Athletic Scholarship Offer to be valid.

There is no such thing as an NCAA National Letter of Intent for an athlete who is enrolling as a transfer directly from another four-year college.

If an NCAA Division I or II program offers a National Letter of Intent to an athlete transferring directly to that university from another four-year college, there’s a mistake somewhere – either intentionally or unintentionally.

A National Letter of Intent signed in this situation is not valid.

We’ve recently become aware of at least two situations where an athlete transferring to an NCAA Division I or II program from another four-year university was sent a National Letter of Intent. We strongly believe that in at least one of those instances, the coaching staff was purposely trying to trick the athlete into thinking that he had no other option.

Do you Have Questions?

If you have questions about either the NCAA National Letter of Intent and how it affects your athlete or if you would like us to review your scholarship offer and National Letter of Intent before you sign, schedule a confidential scholarship strategies consult online or contact us by calling 913-766-1235 or sending an email to rick@informedathlete.com.

Wednesday, February 5th is the first day of the National Letter of Intent signing period for NCAA Division I and II football recruits.

Although NCAA Division I football programs had an “early” signing period in December, this upcoming period will be the first opportunity for Division II football programs to sign recruits to a scholarship for next year.

This signing period is open through April 1 for Division I football programs, but continues through August 1 for Division II programs.

If you have questions about either the NCAA National Letter of Intent and how it affects your athlete or if you would like us to review your scholarship offer and National Letter of Intent before you sign, schedule a confidential scholarship strategies consult online or contact us by calling 913-766-1235 or sending an email to rick@informedathlete.com.

We were recently asked if there are differences between how athletic scholarships at NCAA schools are calculated for in-state vs. out-of-state student-athletes.

The difference is in the cost of tuition at an NCAA university and whether an out-of-state athlete is granted a scholarship or tuition waiver to waive the additional cost for out-of-state tuition.

Here’s an example of how 3 out-of-state prospects can have different scholarship amounts awarded at the same university.

In our example:

  • The tuition for an out-of-state or “non-resident” athlete is $20,000 per year, compared with $10,000 for an in-state resident.
  • The three out-of-state prospects are being recruited to an NCAA team that awards partial scholarships (referred to as an “equivalency sport.”)

Prospect 1 will be offered an athletic scholarship and will receive full tuition as part of their scholarship. This prospect’s scholarship offer will cover the full tuition cost of $20,000 for that year and this value will count toward the team’s overall scholarship limit.

Prospect 2 will be offered a non-resident or out-of-state tuition waiver as part of their athletic scholarship package. This prospect’s scholarship offer will include a non-resident waiver to waive the out-of-state or non-resident portion of tuition, but this prospect will still be responsible for the in-state tuition fee which is $10,000 for that year. The $10,000 value of the non-resident tuition waiver will count toward the team’s overall scholarship limit.

Prospect 3 is an academically strong non-resident student who is being recruited as a walk-on with no athletic scholarship. Even though no athletic scholarship is being offered, this prospect’s high ACT or SAT test score qualifies them for a waiver of non-resident tuition under the admission policies of that particular university. Like Prospect 2, this prospect – even though she/he isn’t receiving an athletic scholarship – will just be responsible for the in-state tuition fee of $10,000 for that year. Also, because this tuition waiver was awarded for academic achievement rather than athletic ability or participation, the value of this tuition waiver will NOT count against the team’s overall scholarship limit and the prospect will be considered a “non-counter.”

Scholarship Calculations are Frequently Difficult to Understand.

This is because the calculations can differ from one university to another and they also differ between athletes on the same team.

If you have questions about your athlete’s scholarship offer, contact us at rick@informedathlete.com or 913-766-1235 for a consultation session and we’ll help you understand the offer.

We get many calls and emails from parents of student-athletes asking questions about NCAA scholarships and financial aid agreements.  There’s no doubt about it, athletic scholarship calculations can be hard to understand because of the different types of scholarships and some of the terminology used.

Examples of those differences include:

  • Power Five athletic scholarships compared to a scholarship offered by a Division I non-Power Five program. The nuances of Power Five athletic scholarships are intended to provide more scholarship “protection” to athletes at Power Five universities. But, that’s not always the case.
  • One-year scholarships compared to multi-year scholarships. NCAA Division I teams can provide scholarships that cover multiple years, while Division II teams can only provide scholarships for one year at a time.
  • “Equivalency” sports vs. “Head Count” sports. Equivalency sports are more commonly known as partial-scholarship sports because a full scholarship can be divided among multiple team members, while Head Count sports are considered to be awarding a full scholarship to each athlete who receives one (even though some programs don’t have adequate funding to provide full scholarships).
  • A scholarship that may be reduced or cancelled “during the period of the award” compared with “after the period of the award.” A coach may have the right to reduce or non-renew a scholarship for purely athletic reasons “after the period of the award” but a scholarship can’t be reduced for athletic reasons “during the period of the award.”

Do you Need Help Understanding your Athlete’s Scholarship Offer or Athletic Financial Aid Agreement?

In a confidential phone consultation, we can review your scholarship offer and give you objective advice and information related to your offer.

Examples of this include:

  • Comparing the breakdown of the award and reviewing the financial aid conditions & criteria that must be met to retain the award. (Sometimes the offer is different than the official agreement and that can create problems for the athlete down the road).
  • Reviewing the academic standards required by the school to retain the award. (Are the university’s scholarship requirements higher than what is required by the NCAA?)
  • Considering whether a revision to the scholarship offer might be appropriate.

To schedule a scholarship offer review, schedule a scholarship consultation online or call us at 913-766-1235 or send an email to rick@informedathlete.com.

A head coaching change (whether the coach is fired, or leaves of their own choosing to retire or take a new job) doesn’t change anything about the steps for an athlete to navigate a transfer or about whether an athlete can be immediately eligible at their next college if they choose to transfer.

However, a coaching change in NCAA Division I CAN potentially have an impact on an athlete’s scholarship, or perhaps more accurately, on a scholarship athlete’s opportunity to continue as a member of their team at the university that has the coaching change.

That’s because a new head coach being hired at an NCAA Division I university can tell an athlete “You won’t be a member of this team next season. You can continue on scholarship here at the university until you graduate, but you won’t be a part of this team.”

The NCAA rationale for this rule is that an athlete should have the right to complete their degree at their current university while continuing on scholarship even if the new coaching staff has a “system” for which that current athlete is not a good fit or if the coach tries to “run off” the athlete.

The best example may be a football player who chose their university because the former coaches featured a pass-oriented offense, but the new coaching staff prefers a run-oriented approach.

The downside of this rule is that an athlete in this situation will, in most cases, never be able to continue on the team at their current university. That’s because the benefit to the new coaching staff is that they get to “reclaim” that scholarship to go recruit a new player while allowing the current player to continue on scholarship at the university until they complete their degree.

Do You Have Questions?

If you’d like to have a confidential detailed discussion about the Division I scholarship rules when a coaching change occurs, schedule a scholarship strategies consult online or call 913-766-1235 or email rick@informedathlete.com.

We get many calls this time of year when coaching changes are announced as Fall season sports wind down. In this article, I address some of the common questions we are asked.

Does an NCAA coaching change give me a “free” transfer?

A coaching change (whether the coach is fired or leaves of their own choosing) does not change anything about the steps to follow in a transfer or about whether an athlete can be immediately eligible at their new college upon transfer.

Does an NCAA coaching change affect my scholarship?

When a head coaching change occurs at the NCAA DI level, it is possible for the new coach to deny a returning athlete a spot on the roster. The University would be required to continue the athlete’s scholarship as long as the athlete makes satisfactory progress toward their degree. However, if the athlete wishes to continue competing in their sport, they will have to transfer in order to do so.

Does an NCAA coaching change void my NLI commitment?

When an athlete signs an NLI, they are signing with the university not with a particular coach. While some schools will grant an NLI release after a coaching change, that’s not always the case.

Do You Have Questions?

If you have questions about an NCAA coaching change and how your athlete might be affected, schedule a confidential scholarship strategies consult online or call us at 913-766-1235.

It IS possible for a recruit to sign both an NJCAA Letter of Intent with a junior college and also sign an NCAA National Letter of Intent with an NCAA Division I or II university.

Baseball and Football are the two most common sports where an athlete double-signs.

For baseball, an athlete may sign with both organizations if they want the option to go to junior college for just one year in hopes of then being drafted in the Major League Baseball draft and signing a professional contract. (Baseball players who enroll at a four-year college normally can’t be drafted until after their 3rd year of college unless they have an early birthday.)

For football, it has been somewhat common over the years to see an athlete sign with both an NCAA university and a Junior College program when the family isn’t sure whether the athlete will satisfy the NCAA academic requirements to be eligible as a freshman. The junior college the athlete signs with can then be their “Plan B” to play right away while getting bigger and stronger and then having the chance to be “re-recruited” from the junior college to an NCAA football program.

If you have questions regarding the National Letter of Intent and options available to your student-athlete, schedule a scholarship strategies consult online or by calling 913-766-1235 or sending an email to rick@informedathlete.com.

Wednesday, November 13 is the initial date for high school seniors to sign an NCAA National Letter of Intent in all sports other than Football.The Football signing date is December 18 for Division I programs and February 5 for Division II programs.

For athletes being recruited by junior colleges, November 1st was the first date for coaches at NJCAA member colleges to offer their NJCAA Letter of Intent to high school seniors in all sports other than Football. (The NJCAA football signing date is February 5.)

  • The National Letter of intent is not the same thing as an athletic scholarship agreement from an NCAA university. While the two documents go hand-in-hand, they are not one and the same.
  • A National Letter of Intent can’t be issued to a recruit unless that recruit is being offered an athletic scholarship. However, it is not a requirement for a recruit to sign a National Letter of Intent at the same time that they sign the university scholarship agreement being offered.
  • When a prospect signs an NLI, they are committing to attend that school for at least one full academic year in exchange for their scholarship. Once a prospect has signed an NLI, other DI and DII programs are to stop recruiting that prospect.
  • While NCAA DI universities are permitted to offer multi-year scholarships, the majority of DI athletic teams only offer one-year scholarships which are renewable each year. NCAA DII athletic programs are prohibited from offering multi-year scholarships.

We have a limited number of 30-minute private consults available Tuesday, November 12th and Wednesday, November 13th.

To be guaranteed a spot, purchase and schedule a confidential scholarship strategies consult online or call us at 913-766-1235.