We often hear college athletes and parents tell us that their coach isn’t honoring their promise of a “guaranteed” scholarship or an increasing scholarship that was given by the coach when the athlete was being recruited.

Furthermore, we also hear too frequently that a coach will tell an athlete:

“I need to reduce your scholarship because your performance isn’t justifying the scholarship that we’ve given you.”

The NCAA Division I and II scholarship rules specify conditions under which a coach is permitted to cancel an athlete’s scholarship or to not renew it for the following year(s).

The most common conditions that are permitted include:

  • When an athlete becomes academically ineligible.
  • When an athlete has been involved in a student misconduct situation or has violated a team or athletic department rule.
  • When an athlete enters the NCAA Transfer Portal. (Although in this situation, the scholarship must be allowed to continue through the end of the semester or quarter in which the athlete entered the Portal.)

NCAA Division I and II coaches are not permitted to reduce an athlete’s scholarship based on athletic performance or contribution to the team’s success during the “term of the award” (whether it’s a one-year scholarship or a multi-year scholarship).

Even in situations when a coach is not permitted to reduce an athlete’s scholarship, a coach may still tell an athlete “We can’t continue you on scholarship given your performance. You need to agree to a reduction in scholarship or you’ll need to transfer.”

There is no fool-proof way to prevent this from happening, but we suggest this:

  • When making an official or unofficial visit to a campus, try to talk with current players on the team to ask them if the coach has a history of reducing scholarships or forcing athletes to transfer.
  • Also, keep in mind that coaches will usually arrange to have recruits talk with current players who they know will say only positive things about the program.
  • Try to connect with an athlete who isn’t getting much playing time and ask if they feel that they’re being treated fairly. Ask them if they feel like the walk-ons are being treated equally to the scholarship athletes.

Do You Need Advice?

If you have questions about scholarships and about the rights that an athlete has when a coach is threatening to cancel a scholarship, schedule a Scholarship Strategies Consult online, contact us at rick@informedathlete.com or call 913-766-1235.

We’ve recently been contacted by some athletes who have been told by their NCAA Division I head coach that their scholarship won’t be renewed for next year.

Others have told us that their coach is telling them that they should transfer and that “we’ll help you with your transfer to another school.”

We encourage athletes and families to consider their possible options and not react too quickly to such news. Reacting too quickly without knowing your options may place you in an even worse position.

For example: If a Division I coach is telling your athlete that they aren’t renewing their scholarship for next year, what they might NOT be saying is that the athlete has the right to appeal that decision to the campus Financial Aid Appeal Committee.

However, if the athlete enters the Transfer Portal before the hearing takes place, the athlete may be forfeiting their right to request an appeal hearing. That’s because the university has the right to terminate the scholarship of an athlete who enters the Transfer Portal at the end of the semester in which the athlete enters the Portal.

Do You Need Help?

If you would like to discuss the rights and options that an athlete can consider when their scholarship is being threatened, schedule a Scholarship Strategies consult online. Or you can send an email to rick@informedathlete.com or call 913-766-1235 to schedule a session.

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.