When an NCAA university is preparing a waiver on your athlete’s behalf to go directly to the NCAA national office, such as an Academic Eligibility or Extension of Eligibility Waiver, it is important to have a candid conversation with the compliance administrator at your athlete’s university prior to the waiver being submitted.

One important question to ask the compliance administrator is: “if the initial waiver is denied, are you willing to submit an appeal to give our athlete one more try for approval?”

On waivers submitted to the NCAA, there is an item with the initial decision that states: “If you accept this decision, click “I Accept” below.”

  • If that item is checked, then the case will be closed. It’s important to not check “I Accept” if your institution intends to appeal the decision.
  • An appeal generally must be submitted within 30 days of the date that the original NCAA decision was issued.

We have seen situations in which an athlete or family wanted to know about their rights to appeal the denial of a waiver decision by the NCAA, only to have the university tell them “It’s too late to appeal, we’ve already accepted the NCAA’s decision.” It then becomes just that much harder to gain the opportunity to appeal.

If you’re interested in a confidential consultation regarding a possible waiver situation, schedule a Waivers and Appeals Consultation online, by calling 913-766-1235 or by writing to rick@informedathlete.com.

If your student-athlete becomes injured or ill to the point they won’t be able to continue competing during the season, it is possible to receive a Medical Hardship Waiver to get a season of competition “over again.” This includes:

  • DI & DII Student-athletes who have competed for their team during the season and
  • Division III athletes who have continued practicing with their team after the first game of the season

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

In very 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, the method of calculation for the “midpoint of the season” is not the same for NCAA Division I compared to Division II or 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.

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

I frequently advise our clients whose athlete is dealing with a mental health situation, they need to think of the supporting documentation the same as if it were an illness like pneumonia or a physical injury much like a torn ACL.

While this trend is thankfully changing, many student-athletes still don’t want to share with their coach, their athletic department or even a medical professional that they have been dealing with mental health issues. However, many cases I’ve assisted with, the NCAA has approved medical waivers for student-athletes who have provided appropriate medical documentation.

Do You Have Questions or Need Professional Advice?

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.

NCAA Division I and II student-athletes who were on scholarship this past year should be notified no later than July 1 about the status of their scholarship for the upcoming year.

Once in a while we hear from student-athletes or parents that they didn’t receive a notification that their scholarship was being reduced or non-renewed because the official notification was sent to an old inactive email address or mailed to a physical address where the family no longer resides.

To avoid a delay in notification, confirm that your most current contact info is on file with the Office of Financial Aid.

Not receiving official notification in a timely manner could mean that your student-athlete doesn’t receive information about their right to an appeal hearing and result in missing their deadline to request an appeal.

If your student-athlete’s scholarship is being reduced or not renewed for this next year and you want information and assistance regarding a possible appeal, schedule a confidential Waivers and Appeals consult online or contact us at rick@informedathlete.com or at 913-766-1235.

NCAA Division I

Student-athletes with NCAA Division I programs have two ways that they can potentially qualify for an Extension of Eligibility Waiver to have an additional year of eligibility added to their “five-year clock.”

  • If the athlete missed one season of competition due to a season-ending injury or illness, AND If they also missed one other season simply due to being redshirted by the coaching staff.
  • OR If the athlete missed two different seasons of competition due to a season-ending injury or illness.

The redshirt year can occur in any year of the athlete’s college enrollment as long as the athlete also missed a different season due to an injury, illness or other circumstance beyond their control (such as a death or serious illness in the family).

NCAA Division II

The information stated above for Division I is the same for Division II with one key difference.

That difference is that if the athlete is using a redshirt year as one of the two seasons that they are referring to in a request for an Extension Waiver, the redshirt year must have occurred in “…their initial year of full-time collegiate enrollment at any institution…”

Do You Need Professional, Objective Advice?

If you have questions about this type of waiver or any other waivers for additional years or for immediate eligibility, schedule a Waivers and Appeals Consult online or contact us directly at 913-766-1235 or rick@informedathlete.com.

The annual NCAA Convention was recently held in San Antonio The following is a summary of the official rule changes or resolutions in each Division that will have the most direct impact on student-athletes.

NCAA Division I Changes

Transfer Waiver Guidelines Change For 4-4-4 transfer athletes who transfer a second time to a Division I university as an undergraduate:

When an athlete transfers to their third university (4-4-4 transfer) and wants to be eligible in their first year, they can no longer use the following arguments in a waiver application:

  • No Participation Opportunity
  • Financial Hardship
  • Misinformation From a Staff Member

The NCAA Division I Council voted unanimously that going forward, each waiver request will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis.

One of the following criteria must be satisfied to receive a waiver:

  • A demonstrated physical injury or illness or mental health condition that necessitated the student’s transfer (supporting documentation, care plans and proximity of the student’s support system will be considered), or
  • Exigent circumstances that clearly necessitate a student-athlete’s immediate departure from the previous school (e.g., physical assault or abuse, sexual assault) unrelated to the student-athlete’s athletics participation.”

Transfer Exceptions are not the same as Transfer Waivers and will still be available.

The most common Transfer Exception for a 4-4-4 transfer to be eligible in their first year at a Division I university is the Non-Scholarship or Non-Recruited Transfer Exception.

Student-athletes who qualify to use one of the Transfer Exceptions (other than the One-Time Transfer Exception), will now be allowed to enter the Transfer Portal at any time instead of having to wait for the Transfer Portal schedule for their sport.

Softball Athletes – Midyear Transfer Rule Change

A midyear transfer to a Division I softball program – whether from a two-year or four-year college – will no longer be immediately eligible in their first softball season unless they are transferring as a postgraduate student.

This rule takes effect on August 1 of this year and will impact the 2024 softball season.

NCAA Division II

Effective August 1, 2023, NCAA Division II Football student-athletes will be allowed to participate in up to three games during their initial year of enrollment at a Division II institution without being charged with one of their four seasons of playing eligibility.

In addition, Division II football teams will be permitted to scrimmage against another four-year college team as one of the three permissible scrimmage sessions that are allowed during Spring practice.

Student-athletes participating in this scrimmage will not trigger the use of a season of playing eligibility AS LONG AS the athlete was academically eligible during the preceding Fall term.

NCAA Division III

A resolution was approved (but not an actual rule change at this time) directing Division III governing committees to work with member schools and conferences to “…establish a hardship waiver process specific for mental health…”

The intention of this resolution is to establish a hardship waiver process for Mental Health that is separate from that of a Physical Injury Waiver.

The formal resolution also noted that the requirement for a Mental Health Hardship Waiver should allow for appropriate flexibility in supporting documentation since individuals “…suffering with a mental health condition often do not seek immediate support.”

Do You Have Questions?

If you have questions about these changes or any other questions about specific issues that impact you or your athlete regarding college athletics eligibility, scholarships, waivers or transfers, we invite you to schedule a confidential consult by calling us at 913-766-1235 or sending an email to rick@informedathlete.com.

The NCAA Division I is no longer accepting the argument of “No Participation Opportunity” as the basis for waiver relief. This means an athlete will be required to sit out their first year at a new university if they can’t benefit from a Transfer Exception.

Limited waiver opportunities may still be available. However, robust documentation of the circumstances will be required.

Schedule a Waivers and Appeals Consult online if you have questions and want to discuss your athlete’s situation and possible opportunities for a transfer exception.

That’s a question I’m frequently asked. It can be surprising how many times some athletes transfer from one school to another.

When an athlete can’t use the One-Time Transfer Exception to be immediately eligible at a new school, how are they able to be eligible as a multiple time transfer?

While we don’t know the specific circumstances of each athlete’s situation that you might hear or read about, here are some possible explanations as to how they may be able to transfer multiple times and not be required to serve a “year in residence” at their new university.

  • Second transfer could be the use of the Non-Scholarship Transfer Exception.
  • Second (or third) transfer could be using the “No Participation Opportunity” Waiver to be eligible at the next college.
  • 2nd or 3rd transfer could be transferring as a grad student and getting a waiver to be eligible as a grad transfer if they are pursuing a degree that wasn’t offered at their previous college.
  • Any of the above could also have been a possible option AFTER a 4-2-4 transfer from the first four-year college to a JUCO then back to another four-year college and then possibly using any of the options listed above.

Do You Need Advice?

If your athlete is thinking about a transfer, whether from one four-year college to another or from a junior college, we can provide a confidential consultation to explain the steps, rules and academic requirements to be eligible at the new college. Schedule a confidential Transfer Consultation online, contact us at rick@informedathlete.com or call our office at 913-766-1235.

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.