A 2021 study by the NCAA revealed that 30% of student-athletes surveyed were extremely overwhelmed with 25% feeling mentally exhausted. Depression symptoms are considerably higher with college athletes than within the overall student population as a whole.

In the past few months, we’ve had a significant increase in calls asking whether a student-athlete might qualify for a Medical Hardship Waiver due to mental health issues.

Medical Hardship Waivers ARE granted for mental health issues. However, as with all waivers, medical documentation is extremely important!

Complicating this is the fact that most student-athletes find it difficult to share their mental health struggles with anyone – including their coach, a medical professional and often times, even their family.

Our goal with this article is to encourage student-athletes who are struggling to reach out to their coach, team doctor, academic advisor and/or their parents to help them connect with a licensed counselor or therapist who can help provide tools and strategies to navigate through a difficult time.

We often suggest to athletes or parents who are requesting a waiver for mental health reasons that they need to think of the situation as if it were a physical injury. With a physical injury, an athlete needs medical documentation of a “season-ending” injury from the actual time of the initial diagnosis, such as for a torn ACL or the need for “Tommy John” surgery.

The documentation needed for a mental health waiver is no different. If an athlete didn’t seek out a therapist during the actual time that they were dealing with their mental health issues, or if the therapist didn’t document the dates and some notes of the discussions that the athlete had with their therapist, it will be very difficult for an athlete to have their mental health waiver approved.

Through the years, I’ve consulted with many parents of student-athletes who have qualified and received a medical hardship waiver and come through it to achieve even higher levels of success on the field and in the classroom than before.

If you have questions regarding your student-athlete’s specific situation and want to see if they might qualify for a Medical Hardship Waiver or another type of waiver, schedule a confidential Waivers and Appeals Consult online, send an email rick@informedathlete.com or call our office at 913-766-1235.

It is possible for a student-athlete to receive a Medical Hardship Waiver to get their season of competition “over again” when:

  • A student-athlete has competed for their NCAA DI, NCAA DII, NAIA, or Juco college team during the season but then are injured or become ill to the point that they won’t be able to compete any more during the season,
  • An NCAA Division III student-athlete has competed or continued practicing with their team after the first game of the season but then are injured or become ill to the point that they won’t be able to compete any more during the season,

If your student-athlete has had a significant injury or illness during this Fall 2022 season and you’re wondering about the possibility of a Medical Hardship Waiver, it’s important to keep in mind that there are specific conditions and restrictions that apply for these types of waivers, and they vary between the NCAA, NAIA and JUCO rules.

NCAA guidelines and requirements for such a medical waiver can even differ between Division I, Division II, and Division lII programs.

In general terms, to qualify for a Medical Hardship Waiver, an athlete can’t participate in more than 30% of the number of games or “dates of competition” in their regular season and can’t appear in a game after the midpoint of their season.

However, an athlete or family should not assume that the method of calculation for the “midpoint of the season” is the same for each college level for a team sport compared with an individual sport.

The most important factor when considering whether your athlete will qualify for a Medical Hardship Waiver is the supporting medical documentation to verify that the injury or illness is “season ending” in its severity.

  • The medical documentation is especially important if an athlete is hoping to receive a Medical Hardship Waiver for mental health concerns.
  • That’s because most athletes don’t want to share with anybody – their coach, their athletic department or even a medical professional – that they have been dealing with mental health issues.

Do You Wonder if Your Student-Athlete Might Qualify for a Medical Hardship Waiver?

To discuss your athlete’s specific situation in a confidential consultation to see if they might qualify for a Medical Hardship Waiver (or for other types of Waivers such as for a family illness or a financial hardship), schedule a Waivers and Appeals Consult online, e-mail rick@informedathlete.com or call our office at 913-766-1235.

The opportunity for an NCAA Division I athlete to receive an Extension Waiver for a possible 6th year on their eligibility “clock” has been expanded.

Prior to this recent change, there were two ways for a Division I athlete to have their eligibility clock extended to a 6th year (Pandemic-related rulings aside).

  • The athlete must have missed two different seasons of competition due to documented circumstances outside of the control of the athlete and also outside of the control of the coach and athletic department; OR
  • The athlete must have been redshirted by their coach during their first year of full-time college enrollment (at a two-year or four-year college) and must have missed one other season due to documented circumstances outside their control.

With this recent change, a Division I athlete can qualify for a 6th year if:

  • They were redshirted during ANY year of their college enrollment and then missed one other season due to documented circumstances outside their control and outside the control of the coach and athletic department.

Do You Have Questions?

If you are wondering whether your athlete may qualify for an Extension of Eligibility Waiver under this recent NCAA rule change, schedule a confidential Waivers and Appeals Consultation online.

You can also contact us at rick@informedathlete.com or call our office at 913-766-1235 for more information regarding our consultation services.

We’ve been receiving a number of inquiries this summer asking whether an athlete can qualify for a Waiver for Mental Health issues for limited playing time or inability to finish their season due to mental health concerns.

Regardless of whether an athlete is seeking a hardship waiver due to mental health concerns, an illness or for a physical injury, the three main rules and requirements are basically the same across all NCAA (or junior college) divisions.

  • Participation in no more than 30 percent of contests or dates of competition in an athlete’s sport in NCAA Division I, NCAA DII or junior college. (33 percent in NCAA Division III).
  • An athlete can’t have appeared in a game after the half-way point of the season.
  • Athlete must have incurred an injury or illness before the half-way point of the season and have documentation from a physician (or mental health licensed professional) that the athlete is unable to participate any further in their season due to the injury or illness. Physician Documentation must have been recorded at the time of the illness or injury prior to the start of the second half of the season.

Most athletes who are dealing with mental health issues are reluctant to share with anyone including their coach, a medical professional or their family.

However, the medical documentation is especially important if an athlete is hoping to receive a Medical Hardship Waiver for mental health concerns.

To discuss your athlete’s specific situation in a confidential consultation to see if they might qualify for a Medical Hardship Waiver (or for other types of Waivers such as for a family illness or a financial hardship), schedule a Waivers and Appeals Consult online, email rick@informedathlete.com or call our office at 913-766-1235.

The annual NCAA Convention was held recently in Indianapolis. While much of the publicity over the last few months regarding the Convention was regarding the work of the Constitution Committee to propose a new draft of the NCAA Constitution, I doubt that work will really impact the day-to-day life of NCAA student-athletes – at least not in the near future.

Here’s a brief rundown of some topics of interest for NCAA DI, NCAA DII, and NCAA DIII.

NCAA DI

For women’s basketball, recruiting rules were revised in several different topic areas, including telephone calls, official visits and the recruiting calendar. Due to the number of changes, contact us directly if you desire information regarding those changes.

In men’s basketball, the number of recruiting-person days (number of total days the men’s coaching staff could be off-campus recruiting) was reduced from 130 to 100. Two coaches recruiting on the same day equals two recruiting-person days.

For both men’s and women’s basketball, a proposal to allow student-athletes to appear in up to four regular season games without being charged with the use of a season of competition was defeated.

Football spring practice opportunities for full contact practice sessions will be reduced. They won’t be allowed on consecutive days during spring practice and won’t be allowed for more than 75 minutes in any practice session (other than a scrimmage).

New guidelines for transfer waivers that were set to go into effect in 2022 will be delayed until January 2023. This means that athletes transferring to a Division I university who need a waiver to be ruled eligible will have a wider range of acceptable reasons and circumstances that can be cited as a factor in the waiver decision as compared to the new waiver guidelines.

Those guidelines – which are now postponed a year – basically limit acceptable waiver reasons as:

  • An athlete has a diagnosed learning disability which was not sufficiently supported at the previous university OR
  • An athlete has faced a “real and imminent health and safety” threat at the previous university.

NCAA DII

The Division II One-Time Transfer Exception was changed to more closely align with the Division I One-Time Transfer Exception. The key aspects of the new Division II rule are:

  • The school from which an athlete is transferring will not have the opportunity to object to the athlete’s transfer.
  • Athletes will be required to view an educational video or online module regarding the transfer rules before their name will be entered into the Transfer Portal.
  • Athletes will be required to provide written transfer notification to their school by June 15 to have the chance to be eligible during the upcoming academic year.
  • A transferring athlete and the head coach at the new school to which they are transferring will be required to certify that they had no direct or indirect contact regarding a transfer prior to the student-athlete entering the Transfer Portal.

NCAA DIII

The proposal which would have had the most direct impact on Division III student-athletes was not voted on, but instead was referred to the Division III Interpretations and Legislative Committee for additional analysis and consideration.

If it had been approved at the Convention, it would have allowed Division III student-athletes to participate in a full season of practice with their team and still claim a “redshirt season” if the athlete did not compete in any games against another university.

As a result, the current Division III rule is still in effect. That rule charges a student-athlete with a “season of participation” even if they only practice with their team beyond the first game of the season but even if they don’t appear in a game against another opponent.

 

If you have questions about any actions taken at the NCAA Convention, contact us directly via e-mail at rick@informedathlete.com or by calling 913-766-1235.

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

A few of the situations where a waiver or appeal might apply include:

  • The student-athlete has been injured in competition, hurt in an accident or had an illness that affects their ability to compete.
  • A coach or athletic department has cancelled a student-athlete’s scholarship for “violating team rules.”
  • A student-athlete has extenuating circumstances including illness or death of family and they need to take a break from competition.
  • A student-athlete is denied eligibility and there are extenuating circumstances.

Are You Wondering if Your Student-Athlete Qualifies for a Waiver or Appeal?

During a confidential Waivers & Appeals Consult, Rick will ask questions to determine if the student-athlete qualifies for either and then will discuss available options and best set of “next steps.”

ALL information shared is private and confidential – nothing is shared with schools, coaches, etc. unless you specifically ask Rick to contact someone for info on your behalf.

The NCAA Division I Council has approved a temporary one-year waiver to increase the annual scholarship signing limit for Football only.

The Chair of the Football Oversight Committee stated that this decision was made because “…schools should have temporary flexibility to help address possible roster depletion due to transfers.”

The one-year waiver will permit Division I football programs to sign up to 7 more recruits than the normal standard limit (25 for FBS schools and 30 for FCS schools) to REPLACE current team members who transfer out of the program after this current semester.

    • For example, if four football players transfer out from a Division I FBS program at the end of this semester, that program will be permitted to sign up to 29 incoming recruits rather than the normal annual limit of 25 signees.
    • The overall total scholarship limits for Division I football programs will remain the same, however. Those limits are 85 for FBS football programs and 63 scholarship equivalencies for FCS programs.
    • D1 schools will be able to sign replacements for transfers who depart their school on or after the last day of the school’s Fall term or Dec. 15th, whichever is earlier.

December 15th is the first day of the early National Letter of Intent signing period for Division I football programs.

If you have questions about the scholarship limits or rules in football or any other sport, contact us at 913-766-1235 or write to rick@informedathlete.com.

Many college fall sport teams are approaching the midpoint of their season and some teams may have already started the second half of their season.

It’s important to know that a student-athlete can’t compete in their sport after the midpoint of their season if they hope to qualify for a Medical Hardship Waiver.

The rules for a Hardship Waiver differ somewhat between the various levels of college athletics (NCAA Division I, Division II, etc). However, the general rule of thumb is that student-athletes can’t appear in more than 30% of the season for their sport.

We shared another article about Medical Hardship Waivers a few weeks ago, but if you missed it, you can find it through the link below:

https://informedathlete.com/medical-hardship-waivers-does-your-student-athlete-qualify/

If you have questions about Hardship Waivers (whether Medical or otherwise), schedule a Waivers and Appeals Consult online, or you can call us at 913-766-1235 or send an email to rick@informedathlete.com.

If a student-athlete is injured or becomes ill to the point that they won’t be able to compete any more during the season, it’s possible for them to receive a Medical Hardship Waiver to get that season “over again” even if:

  • They have competed for their team during the season.
  • Or in the case of Division III they’ve continued practicing with their team after the first game of the season.

If your athlete has already received a significant injury or illness early in the Fall season, you may be wondering about the possibility of a Medical Hardship Waiver.

  • It’s important to know that there are specific conditions and restrictions that apply for these types of waivers, and they vary between the NCAA, NAIA and JUCO rules.
  • In fact, even within the NCAA, the conditions and guidelines for such a waiver can differ between Division I, Division II, and Division lII.

Examples of some of the questions we are asked during a confidential consultation about Medical Hardship Waivers include:

  • If I missed out on a large portion of the early-season schedule with my injury but then am re-injured after playing in the second half of the season, can I still receive a Hardship Waiver?
  • What can I do if my doctor hasn’t cleared me to return to competition but our team trainer is telling our coach that I’m able to play?
  • How much medical documentation will I need for my Hardship Waiver to be approved?
  • If I sat out this past Spring season due to injury but couldn’t see my doctor until after the season was over, can I still receive a Hardship Waiver?
  • Is the “off-season” portion of our team schedule included in the calculation of the 30% requirement or the midpoint of the season?
  • Are the requirements the same for a Hardship Waiver for mental health issues?

If you have any of these same or other questions and need objective advice and accurate information, we can help!

Schedule a Waivers & Appeals consultation online, call our office at 913-766-1235 or send an email to rick@informedathlete.com

If your student-athlete has been told that they won’t be academically eligible at their NCAA school this year or this semester and you don’t know what to do, Informed Athlete can help.  We’ll discuss the situation with you to advise possible options that your student-athlete may be able to consider.

Possible options – which can be stressful when there’s very little time to make a decision – might include enrolling at a different college, returning to a junior college for another semester, or discussing a possible academic waiver with your athlete’s college.

A waiver may be possible when there is sufficient documentation of a circumstance that impacted your athlete’s academic performance when they have an otherwise strong academic record.

In a confidential Waivers and Appeals consultation, we will answer your questions and explain the directives that the NCAA uses to review waiver applications. We’ll also discuss the type of supporting documentation that will need to be submitted along with the application.

We also routinely assist athletes and their families by reviewing the athlete’s personal statements and suggesting possible revisions to have more impact and make a stronger case for approval.

If you have questions, please call us at 913-766-1235 or send an email to rick@informedathlete.com.