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.

This post includes the latest updates we have regarding college athletic organizations and the impact on current student-athletes as well as on high school or junior college recruits.

NCAA Spring Sport Competition

All winter and spring championships have been cancelled by the NCAA. Some individual conferences could choose to still conduct a portion of a spring sports schedule, but that seems unlikely given the directive from the CDC to limit the size of any public gathering to no more than 50 people for the next 8 weeks.

In fact, some conferences, such as the Big Ten, have not only banned all competition for spring sports, but have also banned practices and other “organized team activities” for all sports until at least April 6 (at which time the ban will be re-evaluated).

Be sure to check with your athlete’s school or conference by monitoring their website and social media accounts for current updates.

NCAA Additional Season of Eligibility

NCAA leadership has stated that all student-athletes who have participated in spring sports should receive “eligibility relief” from being charged with the use of a season of eligibility. They also stated that “additional issues with NCAA rules must be addressed” and they will be finalizing details in the coming weeks.

However, some coaches and athletic departments may choose to apply this “eligibility relief” selectively.

For example, the parent of a Division I athlete has informed me that the athletic director at that particular university has informed some teams that only seniors will be granted an additional year of eligibility. I’m sure this statement was made in large part due to uncertainty as to whether the NCAA will increase scholarship limits for next year in reaction to athletes being granted another year of eligibility.

Special Note for NCAA DII and DIII Athletes Currently In Their 10th Semester

Those of you familiar with Division II and III know that instead of the “five-year clock” that is used in Division I, the “ten-semester/15-quarter rule” is used by Divisions II and III.

If your athlete is currently in their LAST semester or quarter under this rule and will be granted an additional season of eligibility for next Spring, it is highly likely that they won’t be able to attend college as a full-time student next Fall. This is because they may only be granted one additional semester or quarter and will need to “save it” for next Spring.

I posed that specific scenario to an NCAA staff member last week via Twitter and was told “That is accurate.” It’s possible that things could change in the coming weeks or months but be sure to keep this in mind until I can provide a more detailed update.

NCAA Recruiting

Division I and II coaches are banned from any in-person recruiting activity until at least April 15. No on or off-campus recruiting activity and no official or unofficial visits to campus by recruits during this time.

However, phone calls as well as written and “electronic communication” are still permitted (emails, text messages, social media messages as allowed under the recruiting rules for Division I and II based on a recruit’s sport and year in school).

As a result of the recruiting ban noted above, the NCAA National Letter of Intent can’t be issued to recruits or signed until April 15 at the earliest. NLI’s that had already been issued to recruits and signed prior to March 16 are still valid.

The Division I football signing period which is normally available until April 1 will be extended by 30 days. The Division I basketball signing period which would normally begin on April 15 will be considered during the next few weeks and an update will be provided.

NAIA Current Student-Athletes

All NAIA spring sport seasons are cancelled, as are any remaining winter championships. No spring sport student-athlete will be charged with a season of competition.

“Any spring sport student-athlete who was enrolled full-time in 2020 will be awarded two additional semester terms of attendance” according to a March 16 release.

NJCAA Student-Athletes & Recruits

The NJCAA announced yesterday afternoon that the Division I and II men’s and women’s NJCAA basketball championships, as well as all spring sports competition and practices, have been cancelled.

On and off-campus recruiting for all NJCAA sports “…will be halted until April 15…” with further consideration at that time.

No spring sport student-athletes will be charged with a year of eligibility. Also, because many student-athletes will be returning for another year that had not been expected, scholarship limits for the 2020-21 season will be increased, with details to be “…vetted by the Eligibility Committee.”

CCCAA Current Student-Athletes

The CCCAA men’s and women’s basketball championships have been cancelled. All spring sports competition as well as practices have been suspended indefinitely.

No determination has been made regarding student-athlete eligibility, but it is a “…central question facing the association.” The CCCAA is working with the NCAA, NAIA, and other associations to determine next steps.

A Special Note for Junior College Athletes

  • If an athlete is currently attending a junior college and receives an additional year of eligibility from the NJCAA or the CCCAA, be aware that the additional year might not be automatically honored by the NCAA (or NAIA) when a junior college athlete transfers to an NCAA or NAIA program.
  • Also, academic eligibility at 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 your academic eligibility when you transfer to join an NCAA athletic program.

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.
  • 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.

Do you Need Assistance?

If you have questions about how your student-athlete is affected by the current situation, they’re considering a transfer or have questions about their eligibility, we can answer all your concerns and provide options and a scenarios in a confidential consultation.

Schedule a scholarship strategies consult online or by calling us at 913-766-1235 or sending an email to rick@informedathlete.com.

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.

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.