We’ve had an increasing number of families contact us to ask whether their athlete should consider “opting out” from their spring season and what it means if they do.

The answer can be different depending on a number of factors. Those factors include:

  • The level of college that your athlete attends (NCAA D1, D2, D3, etc.).
  • Is the athlete receiving an athletic scholarship?
  • Has the Spring sport season started for your athlete?
  • If the season has started, has your athlete appeared in a game for their team yet?
  • Does your athlete want to continue at their same college next year, or are they planning to transfer?

For a confidential discussion of the Opt-Out rules and how your student-athlete might be able to benefit from them, schedule a Scholarship Strategies consult online, send an email to rick@informedathlete.com or call us at 913-766-1235.

The Spring semester has started or will be starting soon at most colleges across the country. This is a good opportunity to remind our readers about the current rules and waivers that are in effect regarding seasons of competition and eligibility.

I’ve summarized the information by level and broken it down by Spring Sports and Fall Sports.

As you review the information, please keep in mind that the rules and/or waivers that have been approved are likely different for the traditional Spring sports (baseball, softball, track and field, etc.) as compared to those that have been approved for traditional Fall sports that will now be competing this Spring (volleyball, soccer, etc.).

If you have questions about these waivers at any level of college athletics, contact us by writing to rick@informedathlete.com or by calling 913-766-1235. You can also schedule a confidential Eligibility Issues consultation online.

NCAA Division I Current Rulings

NCAA Division I student-athletes in Fall or Winter sports who are eligible to compete during their season will not be charged with a season of competition used, regardless of the number of contests or dates of competition that they appear in.

For Division I student-athletes in Spring sports, the NCAA has not issued any guidance at this point in time. I’m sure that the Division I leaders don’t want to further “clog up” and overload their Spring sport rosters in the next year or two by giving Spring athletes a 2nd free season of eligibility.

Therefore, I believe that Division I Spring sport athletes should move forward under the assumption that any appearance in a game this Spring for their team will be counted as using one of their permissible seasons of competition.

NCAA Division II Season of Competition Waiver Status

The NCAA Division II Management Council has granted blanket waivers for Fall and Winter sport student-athletes to receive an additional season of competition and an additional year (two semesters or three quarters) added to their eligibility clock.

DII Fall and Winter sport athletes will receive these waivers regardless of the number of games they appear in or the number of games that their team is able to play during this 2020-21 academic year AS LONG AS they are eligible for competition.

Waivers for an additional season of competition and an additional year of eligibility are also possible for Division II Spring sport athletes.

HOWEVER, the rules regarding a waiver for Spring are different.

For Spring sport athletes to qualify for these waivers, they must be eligible to compete and the individual athlete and their team must not participate in more than 50% of the sport’s maximum contests or dates of competition.

If a Division II team or individual student-athlete does participate in more than 50% of the maximum number of competitions, those athletes will be charged with a season of competition used and a term (or terms) of enrollment toward their 10 semester or 15 quarter limit if the athlete appeared in a contest.

NCAA Division III Waiver for ALL Current Student-Athletes

The NCAA Division III Presidents Council has approved a blanket waiver that will benefit ALL eligible D3 student-athletes this year. These student-athletes can compete in up to a full season in their sport without being charged with a season of participation or a term of attendance toward their 10-semester or 15-quarter limit.

An important factor to note is that a Division III athlete can receive these waivers as long as the athlete is or was eligible for competition during at least one term of the 2020-21 academic year.

NAIA Season of Competition Waiver Status

The current status of waivers for NAIA student-athletes happens to be the same as for NCAA Division II student-athletes described above.

NAIA Fall and Winter sport student-athletes will be able to receive a waiver regardless of the number of contests that they compete in, as long as they are academically eligible for competition.

Spring sport athletes will only receive a waiver if they and their team compete in no more than 50% of the maximum number of contests in that particular sport.

NJCAA Will Not Count 2020-21 Sport Seasons

The NJCAA Board of Regents has granted a blanket waiver that will allow student-athletes in ALL sports – Fall, Winter, and Spring – to participate during the 2020-21 academic year without using a year of eligibility.

This decision provides flexibility for current JUCO athletes regarding their opportunity to possibly compete for an additional season at this level before transferring to an NCAA or an NAIA university.

However, it will be important for NJCAA athletes to know that there are specific academic requirements that they must satisfy for a successful transfer to an NCAA or an NAIA four-year college.

For questions about the rules and requirements for transfer eligibility from a two-year college to a four-year program, schedule a confidential Eligibility Issues Consult online, or contact us directly at 913-766-1235 or rick@informedathlete.com.

CCCAA Spring Participation Plan

The California Community College Athletic Association has not issued any updates on their website regarding waivers or season participation plans since July 9, 2020. Their sport participation plan is that all sport seasons will take place this Spring.

The following sports were scheduled to begin organized practices on Monday, January 18 with competition beginning in early February:

  • Basketball
  • Cross Country
  • Football
  • Women’s Golf
  • Soccer
  • Women’s Volleyball
  • Water Polo
  • Wrestling

Remaining CCCAA sports are scheduled to begin organized practices on March 27 with the first date of competition in those sports being April 10.

Do You Have Questions?

If you have questions about these waivers at any level of college athletics, contact us by sending an email to rick@informedathlete.com or calling 913-766-1235.

You can also schedule a confidential Eligibility Issues consultation online if you’d like information and assistance specific to your student-athlete’s situation.

On February 3rd, high school and junior college football players will have an opportunity to sign a National Letter of Intent with an NCAA Division I or II football program.

While NCAA Division I football programs already had an “early” signing period in December, February 3 will mark the first opportunity to recruits to sign with a Division II football program.

Should your student-athlete sign with a school or take a Gap Year?

Considering that college football programs at all levels may be crowded next Fall with almost all football athletes from this current year being granted an additional season of eligibility, should your athlete sign with a school and enroll next Fall, or should they consider taking a gap year?

Below is a link to an article we wrote last Fall about this issue if you missed it. You may want to also keep in mind that at the Division I level, coaches in ALL sports are still in a recruiting Dead Period which prevents campus visits and face-to-face interaction with coaches until at least April 15.

https://informedathlete.com/should-your-recruited-athlete-sign-an-ncaa-national-letter-of-intent/

Do Need Advice?

If you have questions and need objective advice, schedule a Scholarship Strategies Consult. We will discuss options available to your student-athlete so you can make an informed decision.

Most of you are probably aware that in response to legislation being proposed in many states across the country, the NCAA has proposed their own set of rules regarding opportunities for athletes to be compensated for the use of their name, image, or likeness.

These proposals will be voted on at the upcoming NCAA Convention in January, and if approved, will take effect August 1, 2021.

The proposals differ between Division I, Division II and Division III, so we won’t describe the various proposals in great detail. However here is an overview of the proposed legislation for Division I student-athletes since those athletes receive the most media exposure and will be more likely to benefit from such opportunities.

Employment

Current or prospective student-athletes will be able to establish their own business and will be able to actively promote their own business.

Current student-athletes will be able to promote and offer fee-for-lesson instruction, or conduct their own camp or clinic. If they use their university facilities to provide instruction, they will need to rent the facilities in the same manner as the general public.

Autographs, Memorabilia, Crowdfunding

Current or prospective student-athletes will be able to receive compensation for their autograph.

Current student-athletes will not be able to sell items provided by their university until they are no longer eligible for collegiate competition.

Current and prospective student-athletes will be allowed to crowdfund for limited educational expenses or for charity.

Non-institutional Promotions

Current or prospective student-athletes will be able to receive compensation for promoting a commercial product or service. Universities will not be allowed to assist in arranging such opportunities.

Certain categories of products and services will be prohibited (such as promoting tobacco products or gambling).

A university will be allowed to prohibit current student-athletes from promoting certain products or services that conflict with university sponsorship arrangements. For example, a university that has a shoe contract with Nike will be allowed to prohibit their student-athletes from promoting Adidas or Under Armour.

Agents or Professional Service Providers

The term “agent” will be defined as an individual who is marketing an athlete to be drafted by a professional team or signed to a professional athlete contract.

Individuals or services who market athletes for their name, image, or likeness opportunities (separate from being a professional athlete) will be referred to as “Professional Service Providers” (PSP).

A PSP may not also act as an “Agent” for professional athletic participation.

A student-athlete using a PSP must pay the same fees as the industry standard and can’t receive a discount because of their athletic ability. A university employee or an independent contractor aligned with a university can’t act as a PSP.

A university can’t choose or recommend PSP’s for their student-athletes.

Disclosure to a Third-Party Administrator

The NCAA will establish an independent third-party administrator to manage name, image, and likeness information.

Current and prospective student-athletes will be required to disclose to the NCAA’s third-party administrator any types of promotional activities they are part of. This will include providing contact information and compensation arrangements for such activities.

Remember that these new rules won’t take effect until August, 2021. Contact us at 913-766-1235 or send an email to rick@informedathlete.com if you have any questions.

I recently saw a post from a college football writer that 190 football players have entered the NCAA Transfer Portal in the past 12 days!

Some of these players may leave behind a scholarship at their current school and end up having nowhere to transfer to! It also wouldn’t be surprising to see a similar proportion of athletes in other sports.

When you consider these NCAA athletes who are being granted an additional year of eligibility taking up roster spots that in a normal time would possibly be going to junior college transfers or incoming high school recruits, there will be potential roster “log jams” in many sports across college athletics.

Athletes will need to carefully consider their options BEFORE entering the Transfer Portal.

In a confidential Transfer Consultation, we will:

  • Discuss how the current situation could affect your student-athlete including pros and cons of various transfer options
  • Describe all the steps and rules involved in the transfer process including possible eligibility issues to be aware of

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

A head coaching change (due to retirement, job change, or firing) doesn’t change anything about the steps required for a student-athlete to navigate a transfer or about whether they can be immediately eligible at their next college if they choose to transfer.

However, a coaching change in 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 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 – as long as that current player never participates in football again for their current university.

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.

It’s common this time of year for us to be asked “If my coach is fired or resigns, does that give me a ‘free’ opportunity to transfer?”

In fact, Vanderbilt University and University of Illinois are a few of the schools who have recently announced football coaching changes.

This prompts me to remind readers that while a coaching change CAN potentially impact an athlete’s scholarship, a coaching change does NOT change the transfer rules.

An athlete must still follow the same steps to transfer and their eligibility will depend upon the same rules and academic requirements regardless of whether their team has had a coaching change.

At the NCAA Division I level, however, a coaching change can potentially have an impact on an athlete’s scholarship if the new coaching staff doesn’t see that athlete as a good fit for the program.

If you have questions about the transfer rules or about your athletic scholarship and want to discuss your athlete’s specific situation, schedule a confidential Transfer Consult or a Scholarship Strategies Consult. You can also send an email to rick@informedathlete.com or call us at 913-766-1235.

Within the past few weeks, we’ve consulted with at least three families regarding situations in which their athlete has been dismissed from a team or penalized in other ways primarily for their political beliefs.

While these situations are certainly unfortunate and unfair, decisions as to who a coach keeps on their roster are left to the discretion of the coach by most athletic directors. If a coach removes an athlete from their team, the athlete may have no choice but to transfer to another school.

However, if an athlete is receiving an athletic scholarship, the NCAA rules limit the ability of a coach or athletic department to cancel the scholarship in the middle of the academic year.

Midyear cancellation of a scholarship is only possible if an athlete:

  • Is ruled ineligible for competition
  • Provides fraudulent information on an application, letter of intent, or financial aid agreement
  • Engages in serious misconduct that rises to the level of being disciplined by the university’s regular student disciplinary board;
  • Voluntarily quits their team; or
  • Violates a university policy or rule which is not related to athletic conditions or ability (such as a university or athletic department policy on COVID-19 restrictions, which is a very significant concern in the current environment).

Also, in NCAA Division I, an athlete entering the Transfer Portal could possibly lose their scholarship at midyear.

My advice to athletes and parents

Review very carefully any athletic department or university rules and policies that spell out the non-athletic reasons that can be cited for the cancellation of an athletic scholarship.

Contact us directly at 913-766-1235 or rick@informedathlete.com for or schedule online a confidential scholarship consultation to discuss a situation in which your athlete’s position on their team or their scholarship is being threatened by a coach for their political beliefs, or for alleged violations of policies.

November 11th is the first opportunity for high school seniors (and JUCO athletes) to sign an NCAA National Letter of Intent with an NCAA Division I or II program in sports other than football.

Here are a few mistakes when signing an NLI that have been noted by compliance directors on Division I and II campuses across the country. Don’t make these same mistakes when you or your athlete sign the NLI. A mistake could cause the NLI to be invalid if not caught and corrected.

  • Forgetting to include the time that the NLI was signed.
  • Signing the NLI prior to 7 AM your local time on the initial signing date.
  • Not signing the NLI within 7 days after the date it was issued to you.
  • Names are printed on the NLI instead of an actual signature.
  • The Parent or Legal Guardian box is not checked.
  • Poor scan quality when you return your signed copy to the university.

If you have questions about signing a NCAA National Letter of Intent or an NJCAA Letter of Intent, schedule a confidential Scholarship Strategies consult online. Or you can send an email to rick@informedathlete.com or call 913-766-1235 to schedule a session.

NCAA National Letter of Intent:

November 11 is the initial signing date for an NCAA National Letter of Intent in all sports other than football.

  • An athlete can only sign one NLI with one NCAA Division I or II university.
  • An NCAA National Letter of Intent must be accompanied by an official athletic scholarship agreement from the university your athlete is signing with.
  • When the athlete signs the NLI, they are committing to attend that university for at least one full academic year in exchange for receiving the athletic scholarship.
  • It is not a requirement that the prospective student-athlete sign the NLI, but not doing so could cause the coaching staff recruiting the athlete to question the athlete’s commitment to their team.

See our article for reasons why an athlete may not want to sign the NLI, especially this year if they’ve been recruited during an NCAA Dead Period. https://informedathlete.com/should-your-recruited-athlete-sign-an-ncaa-national-letter-of-intent/

NAIA Letter of Intent:

There actually is no Letter of Intent that is recognized or acknowledged by the NAIA. In other words, there are no NAIA rules or requirements that apply to a Letter of Intent that an NAIA college offers to an athlete. Each college acts on their own regarding scholarships.

There is no NAIA signing date or deadline, and an athlete can sign with more than one NAIA college if they choose to do so. They could sign multiple offers from NAIA schools and then choose to wait until later on to decide which NAIA college they will actually attend.

One downside to the NAIA having no standard Letter of Intent or scholarship rules is that if an NAIA athlete loses their scholarship, there are no NAIA rules that require that an appeal opportunity be made available to them.

NJCAA Letter of Intent:

November 1st was the initial signing date for an NJCAA Letter of Intent in all sports other than football. An athlete can only sign one LOI with one NJCAA program.

  • An NJCAA LOI can be issued to a prospective student-athlete even if no athletic scholarship is being offered to the athlete.
  • Each NJCAA team has a limit on the number of LOI’s that can be signed in any given year, including those for which no scholarship is provided to the athlete.
  • Similar to the NAIA above, there are no NJCAA rules that require that an appeal opportunity be made available to an athlete who loses their scholarship while attending an NJCAA college. Any opportunity to appeal would depend on the policies of that particular college.

Do you have questions or need guidance?

If you have questions about any of this information, schedule a confidential Scholarship Strategies consult online. Or you can send an email to rick@informedathlete.com or call 913-766-1235 to schedule a session.