Over the last few years, there has been much more attention and awareness on the subject of mental health issues that impact student-athletes.

Based on some of the questions raised and concerns being expressed by families we speak with, two points about mental health concerns are the most commonly discussed:

  • Student-athletes, especially male student-athletes and even more for those in contact sports, are reluctant to reveal mental health concerns such as anxiety and depression.
  • For those student-athletes who choose to reveal their mental health concerns, some coaches respond as if they don’t want to hear it, or they take some kind of action which only makes the student-athlete feel worse, such as isolating them from the rest of the team, or telling them “maybe you’re not cut out for college athletics at this level.”

What we are seeing is a pattern of athletes who missed a season of competition because of poor performance related to depression, anxiety, etc. and then when they try to get that season “over again” through a hardship waiver, it isn’t approved. That’s because at the time they were dealing with their issues, they didn’t want to divulge a “weakness” to their coaches or athletic trainers and therefore they don’t have the required documentation of a “season-ending” mental illness.

The Importance of Medical Documentation for Mental Health Issues When Applying for a Medical Hardship Waiver

If a student-athlete is hoping to receive a “medical redshirt” (or what is officially called a Medical Hardship Waiver) in order to get a season of competition “over again” for limited participation, the proper documentation will be even more important than it is when a physical injury is involved.

As we all can understand, if an athlete has undergone Tommy John surgery or has had a torn ACL, there will usually be sufficient medical documentation to support a request for a Medical Hardship Waiver.

However, a student-athlete dealing with mental health concerns like anxiety or depression may not have revealed to their medical professional that it is severely impacting their ability to perform at the level that they need to.

Or, even if they have shared this with their medical professional, the student-athlete may be reluctant to share a note from their doctor with the coaching staff that they should be withheld from competition.

I certainly understand that when a student-athlete is dealing with a mental health issue the last thing on their mind is probably whether they will have an extra season of eligibility later on in their college career.

But for families who may be dealing with such a situation, it can be important to share with the doctor/therapist how the mental health issue is impacting their athlete.

If the student-athlete doesn’t think they can continue through the rest of their season at their best, they should consider asking whether the doctor or therapist believes that their situation is serious enough to be considered “incapacitating” or “season-ending” in its severity. If so, it may help them to gain back a season later on if the student-athlete’s situation meets the other criteria for a hardship waiver.

As stated in the NCAA guidelines for a Medical Hardship Waiver:

“Contemporaneous medical documentation from a physician or medical doctor that establishes the student-athlete’s inability to compete for the remainder of the playing season as a result of an injury or illness shall be submitted with any hardship-waiver request…..For circumstances involving psychological or mental illnesses, the required contemporaneous or other appropriate medical documentation may be provided by an individual who is qualified and licensed to diagnose and treat the particular illness (e.g., psychologist).”

Do you Have Questions?

If your student-athlete is struggling in their sport because of mental health issues, we can help. In a confidential Waivers & Appeals Consultation, we’ll discuss your student-athlete’s situation and inform you if they meet the criteria for a Medical Hardship Waiver. We can also advise on how best to navigate through the Medical Hardship Waiver process and assist with things like helping you write or edit your personal statement, and reviewing your medical documentation.

Schedule your confidential Waivers & Appeals Consult online or by sending an email to rick@informedathlete.com or calling us at 913-766-1235.

The NCAA Division I Transfer Waiver Working Group recently announced that they will likely propose a change to the Division I transfer waiver considerations.

If adopted by the Division I Council in April, scholarship athletes in the sports of baseball, basketball, football, and men’s ice hockey will essentially be able to use the One-Time Transfer Exception to be immediately eligible at their new university.

Currently, scholarship athletes in the Division I sports noted above can’t use the One-Time Transfer Exception that is available to student-athletes in all other sports. However, they can still seek waivers for immediate eligibility when they transfer due to “…extenuatlng and extraordinary circumstances.”

The Transfer Waiver Working Group noted that the large number of waivers being processed has “…strained the waiver process” hence the proposed change to the waiver criteria.

If adopted, such transfer waivers could be approved as long as the transferring student-athlete:

  • Receives a transfer release from their previous university,
  • Leaves their previous university while academically eligible,
  • Meets the academic requirements to maintain their academic progress at their new university, and
  • Is not under disciplinary suspension when they leave their previous university.

There are a couple of key points to keep in mind.

  • First, a student-athlete’s previous university will need to provide a transfer release as noted above. The university will still have the right to object to an athlete’s transfer. If they do so, they will be required to offer an opportunity for an appeal to the student-athlete.
  • Second, the Transfer Waiver Working Group will be seeking feedback from Division I student-athlete representatives, coaches associations, athletic directors, and conference offices prior to the Division I Council’s April meeting. Given the concerns of some high-profile coaches and athletic directors, it’s quite possible that additional conditions could be required of transferring student-athletes, such as a minimum GPA.

If adopted by the Division I Council at their April meeting, the new waiver criteria will be available for scholarship student-athletes to be immediately eligible when transferring to a Division I baseball, basketball, football, or men’s ice hockey program for Fall 2020.

We’ll be sure to keep you updated as we learn of new developments.

To discuss a possible transfer for your athlete, schedule a confidential transfer consult online or contact us at 913-766-1235 or by sending an email to rick@informedathlete.com.

With NCAA DI & DII spring sport seasons starting up, we’re reminding college athletes and parents that any amount of participation in a game or contest against another team will count as a season of eligibility used.  (The NCAA DIII Redshirt rule is quite different). 

The only way to get that season “over again” is through a hardship waiver if the athlete incurs an injury or illness that is serious enough to be documented by a physician as a “season-ending” injury or illness.

There are also specific limitations for the number of contests that an athlete can participate in and still qualify for a hardship waiver.

To be fully informed on the rules and requirements for a Medical Hardship Waiver, schedule a Waivers & Appeals Consult online, call us at 913-766-1235 or send an email to rick@informedathlete.com.

If you’re a college athlete who was injured during your Fall season, you may want to consider whether you qualify for a Medical Hardship Waiver.

If you did not compete at all during this season, it can be considered as a “redshirt” season for you, and even if you were injured, your athletic department may tell you that a Medical Hardship Waiver isn’t necessary since you didn’t use one of your four seasons of eligibility anyway.

However, if we look ahead and consider the possibility that you could possibly become injured again and miss another season, then two seasons with a Medical Hardship Waiver could gain you an extra year of playing eligibility.

We can discuss with you the guidelines for obtaining a waiver for an “extension of eligibility” and help you to be prepared for that possible option.

To schedule a private phone or Skype consultation, call 913-766-1235 or send an email to rick@informedathlete.com.

If you’re a college athlete who is a few weeks into your winter sport season, currently injured, and not sure what your options are for this season, you may want to contact us to discuss whether you might qualify for a Medical Hardship Waiver.

There are specific rules that must be satisfied to receive a Medical Hardship Waiver and those rules vary between the different levels of college athletics.

In addition, for athletes who have the misfortune to miss two different seasons in their sport due to “circumstances beyond their control” it may be possible to receive a waiver for a 6th year of eligibility.

In a private, confidential phone consult, we can discuss the guidelines for obtaining a Medical Hardship Waiver and/or an “extension of eligibility” waiver and advise you on how to request a waiver. Schedule a confidential Waivers & Appeals Consult online, call 766-1235 or write to rick@informedathlete.com.

Now that the Fall sports season is about 5-6 weeks along, here are reminders for athletes who have questions about redshirting and the possibility of receiving a Medical Redshirt or what is officially called a Medical Hardship Waiver.

  • The “4-game-rule” which permits an athlete to appear in up to 4 games and still be eligible for a redshirt season ONLY applies to NCAA DI athletes in FBS or FCS football. There is no “4-game-rule” in any other sport at the Division I level, or for any sport at other college levels.
  • Entering a game for one minute or one play will “burn” a season for an athlete unless they have an injury or illness that will qualify them for a Medical Redshirt. There are very limited exceptions for this rule in certain sports.
  • At all college levels (except the NAIA), for an athlete to qualify for a Medical Hardship Waiver, their injury of illness must occur before the midpoint of the athlete’s season and they must have medical documentation of the injury or illness dated prior to the midpoint of the season.

Do You Have Questions?

To find out if your student-athlete might qualify for a waiver or appeal, we offer a confidential Waivers & Appeals consult. During the confidential private consult, Rick will ask questions to determine if your student-athlete qualifies and provide available options and best set of “next steps.”

Click here to learn more and schedule online or contact us at 913-766-1235 or send an email to rick@informedathlete.com.

Last week on our Informed Athlete Facebook page I shared a brief comment about an article from a University of Kentucky fan website. The article noted the football coach responding “No” when asked whether their injured quarterback would qualify for a medical redshirt for this season after receiving a season-ending knee injury on Sept. 7.

This is an example of athletes receiving inaccurate eligibility information from a coach, even one who’s been in the business for many years. After all, coaches are hired and paid to win games and they have other athletic department staff members who focus on eligibility issues.

The Case Study

The athlete in this case is Terry Wilson, quarterback at the University of Kentucky. (Note – Terry Wilson is not a client of Informed Athlete). He certainly should qualify for a medical “redshirt” (officially called a medical hardship waiver) for this season, and also for a 6th year of eligibility.

According to Wilson’s publicly available timeline:

  • He started at the University of Oregon by enrolling early in the Spring of 2016 for spring practice.
  • Redshirted during that freshman season of Fall 2016.
  • Transferred to a JUCO in Kansas and played there during the 2017 season.
  • He then transferred to Kentucky where he is now in his second season and year four of his Division I “five-year clock.”

His “clock” will expire after the 2020 football season.

However, because Wilson redshirted during his true freshman season at Oregon and has now suffered a season-ending knee injury at Kentucky, his situation certainly appears to meet the NCAA guidelines to receive an “Extension of Eligibility” waiver and 6th year to play football during the 2021 season if he chooses to do so.

Do You Need Help?

Many times, student-athletes don’t realize they qualify for waivers or appeals that could possibly extend their eligibility, make them immediately eligible for competition, or even allow for a scholarship or appeal hearing.

We provide confidential phone consultations to answer questions and discuss your specific situation. Schedule your consult online, call us at 913-766-1235 or send an email to rick@informedathlete.com.

The most important factor in a Medical Hardship Waiver request is the quality of medical documentation to substantiate the injury.

The best case scenario for an athlete to be granted a medical hardship waiver is when the medical documentation from the actual time of the injury or diagnosis includes a statement such as: “This athlete is not released to return to full competition in their sport.”

When no such physician statement is included and it is unclear whether the injury is serious enough to be considered a “season-ending” injury, it is much less certain that the waiver will be approved.

The documentation can also be very important in the future if the athlete happens to become injured again and misses a second season of competition.

In that situation, it would be possible for the athlete to obtain an extension of their eligibility “clock” and add another year of eligibility. This is possible when an athlete has missed not just one, but more than one season of competition due to injury or illness.

How We Can Help

We prepare Medical Hardship Waivers when a college athletic department is not experienced with that process or they don’t have the time or manpower to prepare the waiver.

To discuss your athlete’s specific situation and their opportunity for a Medical Hardship Waiver or even an extension of their eligibility “clock”, schedule a consult online, by calling us at 913-766-1235 or sending an e-mail rick@informedathlete.com.

Scholarship student-athletes (in sports other than baseball, basketball, football, and men’s ice hockey) who wish to transfer to an NCAA Division I program and be immediately eligible at their new school must meet two conditions:

  • The athlete must be academically eligible at the school they are transferring from.
  • The athletic department your athlete is leaving must not have an objection to the transfer.

A common question from many parents we have consulted with has been “How will my athlete know whether their school is filing an objection?”

And my answer has been that the school is required to provide an appeal opportunity. But until now, there has not been a clear answer as to how the student-athlete officially learns whether their previous school has approved or denied their request.

NCAA DI Schools Must Now Provide Written Notification to the Student-Athlete

At the recent NCAA Rules Seminar, it was explained that NCAA Division I athletic programs that have an objection to a student-athlete using the One-Time Transfer Exception are now required to provide written notification directly to the student-athlete and that they have the right to an appeal hearing when their original school objects to the transfer.

This is a very positive change because these transfer notification forms are entered into the Transfer Portal which is not accessible to student-athletes. Previously, student-athletes were sometimes blindsided by finding out late in the transfer process that their school was objecting to their transfer.

Do you Have Questions?

If you need personal assistance, schedule a confidential transfer consultation online or call us at 913-766-1235.

As of August 1, 2019, these NCAA DI Transfer Rules will go into effect:

Walk-on/Non-Recruited Transfer Exceptions

A student-athlete transferring to a Division I university next Fall as an undergraduate can possibly be immediately eligible if:

  • Their previous four-year college provided athletic scholarships in their sport, but the athlete has not received an athletic scholarship, OR
  • Their previous four-year college did not provide athletic scholarships, and the athlete was not “recruited” by that college.

Student-Athletes in position to benefit from this change will still need to be academically eligible at their new university.

Also, while these changes have received lots of publicity in social media, there is one aspect of this change that has NOT received much publicity at all.

The university that these athletes are transferring from WILL NOT be allowed to object to the athlete being immediately eligible next year at their new university (a condition of the One-Time Transfer Exception which I have shared with many of our clients)!

Graduate Transfer Exception

An athlete transferring as a graduate student to an NCAA Division I university in the sports of baseball, basketball, football, and men’s ice hockey next Fall will have the chance to be immediately eligible (without need for a waiver from the NCAA) as long as:

  • The athlete’s previous four-year college did not provide athletic scholarships, OR
  • The athlete never received athletic scholarships while enrolled at a four-year college.

Do you need assistance?

If you have questions about the NCAA transfer rules and how these changes might possibly affect your student-athlete, schedule a confidential consultation online or call us at 913-766-1235.