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

All current NCAA Division I and II scholarship student-athletes are to be notified no later than July 1 whether their scholarship is being reduced or not renewed for the upcoming year.

If your athlete has not been notified by now, they should definitely contact their coaches and ask.

This is especially important if your athlete has recently changed their email, or your family has moved to a new physical address. Make sure that email and physical addresses that are on file with the Office of Financial Aid for your student-athlete are up-to-date.

Once in a while we hear from student-athletes or parents who say they didn’t receive their required scholarship status notification. Not receiving the official notification in a timely manner could mean that your student-athlete could miss the deadline for an appeal hearing should their scholarship be reduced or taken away.

If your student-athlete’s scholarship is being reduced or not renewed for the coming year, you do have some options.

However, time is of the essence. If you’d like to learn more about pursuing an appeal, we can help guide you through the process. Schedule a Waivers and Appeals consult online, or by contacting us at rick@informedathlete.com or calling 913-766-1235.

Last week, NCAA Division I baseball programs were granted a “blanket waiver” that will impact their roster size and scholarship rules for the 2020-21 academic year.

  • There will be no roster size limit for Division I programs during the 2021 baseball season.
  • Up to 32 student-athletes will be allowed to receive a baseball scholarship – an increase from the normal limit of 27 in Division I.
  • Coaches will be allowed to renegotiate scholarships to provide less than 25% for 2020-21 with conditions in place for the following year or years of an athlete’s attendance.

This last point is especially important because student-athletes who were on scholarship during the 2019-20 academic year must be notified by NCAA universities no later than July 1 whether their scholarship will be renewed, reduced, or not renewed for the 2020-21 academic year.

If your Division I baseball athlete has been notified of a change to their scholarship for this next year and you have questions or want to know what options are available, schedule a Scholarship Strategies consult online or contact us at rick@informedathlete.com or at 913-766-1235.

Last week, NCAA Division I leaders extended the recruiting Dead Period for all Division I coaches through the end of July due to continued COVID-19 concerns.

Division I coaches are limited to recruiting by phone, text, email, and other messaging, as well as looking at film and by speaking with high school, junior college and/or club coaches.

Meanwhile, Division II coaches entered a recruiting Quiet Period on June 1.

This means that although the Division II coaches are still restricted from conducting any off-campus recruiting activities, they can conduct sports camps and clinics, invite recruits to campus and have in-person recruiting conversations, as long as those interactions take place on campus.

As the parent of a high school or junior college recruit, how should you or your athlete approach this situation?

Some suggestions:

  • Check out opportunities in your state or region to participate in recruiting camps or showcase events this summer. Because coaches can’t leave campus to conduct recruiting, they will be relying more than ever on the word of event organizers and junior college or smaller college coaches on who were the top players at each event.
  • Attend recruiting/skills camps that may be offered at junior colleges or small colleges in your area. Don’t discount the information that junior college coaches may share with NCAA coaches. Also, don’t discount the possibility of starting off your college career at a junior college to improve your skill level, or to gain strength and speed, so that you can then be recruited by NCAA programs from a junior college.
  • Create a recruiting video that you can send out to coaches.
  • Prepare an athletic resume that you can send to coaches along with a recruiting video. Highlight not only your athletic skills and abilities, but also your academic performance and any leadership or other extra-curricular activities you’ve been involved in.
  • Set up a page for your athlete on one of the recruiting websites that permit you to create your own page and profile.

Here are some of the ways that we can provide objective guidance and information to help you and your athlete navigate through this current challenging environment.

  • We can explain the academic requirements that your athlete will need to satisfy to be eligible to compete at the college level, as well as the transfer academic requirements if they want to start off at the junior college level, or just take part-time courses at the beginning of their enrollment.
  • We can explain the differences in the rules regarding athletic scholarships at the various college levels so that you are prepared if an offer of a scholarship is made to your athlete.
  • For a spring sport recruit who may be faced with overcrowded college rosters this next year, we can also explain the rules and implications of taking a gap year after high school graduation. That option may provide some benefits both athletically to gain size and strength and improve skill level, as well as academically to take part-time course work while postponing the start of the athlete’s eligibility clock.

If you have questions, concerns, or are confused about what to do and how to navigate the recruiting process, we can help you understand and provide scenarios and options for what is in the best interest of your athlete. Schedule a private and confidential Scholarship Strategies Consultation online or by calling us at 913-766-1235 or sending an email to rick@informedathlete.com.

The term “APR” for NCAA purposes refers to the calculation of the Academic Progress Rate for each Division I team.

The NCAA’s Academic Progress Rate was designed to improve the academic standards of Division I student-athletes and their teams by focusing attention on those programs that have an excessive number of student-athletes losing their academic eligibility, leaving a program with seasons of eligibility remaining, or both.

  • Each DI scholarship athlete has 2 potential points that they can earn for their team at the end of each semester that will impact each team’s APR rate.
  • They can earn one “eligibility point” for being academically eligible each semester, and they can also earn one “retention point” if they are returning to their university for the following semester.

To try to keep things somewhat simple, if the APR for an NCAA sports team falls below 930 (team earned less than 93% of their possible APR points for their team) over a rolling four-year period, that team will be banned from postseason eligibility.

It was recently announced that 15 NCAA Division I teams will be ineligible for postseason play during the 2020-21 academic year due to low APR scores. Those teams are:

· Alabama A&M: men’s basketball, men’s track and field, women’s soccer

· Alabama State: men’s basketball

· Coppin State: women’s track and field

· Delaware State: men’s basketball

· Grambling State: men’s track and field

· Howard: football

· McNeese State: football

· Prairie View A&M: football

· Southern: men’s cross country, men’s track and field

· Stephen F. Austin: baseball, football, men’s basketball

If you have an athlete or know an athlete who had plans to participate for one of these teams next year and will be negatively impacted by this action, schedule a confidential scholarship strategies consultation to explore the athlete’s options, call us at 913-766-1235 or send an email to rick@informedathlete.com.

NJCAA

Athletes who signed an NJCAA Letter of Intent with an NJCAA member two-year college for their freshman year are to be notified no later than June 15 if they are going to be signed to another NJCAA Letter of Intent for their sophomore year.

If they are NOT signed to a new NJCAA Letter of Intent by June 15, they become recruitable by any other NJCAA member college starting June 16.

NCAA

For athletes on a sport scholarship at an NCAA Division I or Division II university, athletic departments have until July 1 to inform scholarship athletes about the status of their scholarship for the following academic year. The majority of coaches and athletic programs won’t wait that long and will usually inform athletes at the end of the school year.

If your athlete has not been informed regarding the status of their scholarship and their school year has ended, encourage them to ask about that.

Waiting until July 1 to find out that their scholarship has been reduced or cancelled, and then going through the appeal process will leave them very little time to find another college to transfer to if that becomes necessary.

If you have questions or need objective advice about your athlete’s scholarship status for next year, schedule a confidential scholarship strategies consult online, or call 913-766-1235.

With some universities experiencing coaching changes as the academic year winds down, I thought it would be good to address some of the common questions we receive from athletes and families when that happens.

Does a coaching change give me a “free” transfer to another university?

A coaching change (whether the coach is fired or leaves of their own choosing) doesn’t 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.

However, there is an exception to this for certain sports in circumstances when a coach leaves during the summer after an incoming recruit has arrived on campus.

Does a coaching change affect my scholarship?

When a head coaching change occurs at the NCAA D1 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 need to transfer in order to do so.

Does a coaching change void my NLI commitment?

When a high school or junior college recruit signs a National Letter of Intent, they are signing with the university rather than 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 a coaching change and how your athlete’s scholarship or eligibility might be affected, purchase and schedule a confidential Scholarship Strategies Consult online, or call us at 913-766-1235.