Impact of COVID-19 on NCAA, NAIA, and Junior College Student-Athletes

This post includes the latest updates we have regarding college athletic organizations and the impact on current student-athletes as well as on high school or junior college recruits.

NCAA Spring Sport Competition

All winter and spring championships have been cancelled by the NCAA. Some individual conferences could choose to still conduct a portion of a spring sports schedule, but that seems unlikely given the directive from the CDC to limit the size of any public gathering to no more than 50 people for the next 8 weeks.

In fact, some conferences, such as the Big Ten, have not only banned all competition for spring sports, but have also banned practices and other “organized team activities” for all sports until at least April 6 (at which time the ban will be re-evaluated).

Be sure to check with your athlete’s school or conference by monitoring their website and social media accounts for current updates.

NCAA Additional Season of Eligibility

NCAA leadership has stated that all student-athletes who have participated in spring sports should receive “eligibility relief” from being charged with the use of a season of eligibility. They also stated that “additional issues with NCAA rules must be addressed” and they will be finalizing details in the coming weeks.

However, some coaches and athletic departments may choose to apply this “eligibility relief” selectively.

For example, the parent of a Division I athlete has informed me that the athletic director at that particular university has informed some teams that only seniors will be granted an additional year of eligibility. I’m sure this statement was made in large part due to uncertainty as to whether the NCAA will increase scholarship limits for next year in reaction to athletes being granted another year of eligibility.

Special Note for NCAA DII and DIII Athletes Currently In Their 10th Semester

Those of you familiar with Division II and III know that instead of the “five-year clock” that is used in Division I, the “ten-semester/15-quarter rule” is used by Divisions II and III.

If your athlete is currently in their LAST semester or quarter under this rule and will be granted an additional season of eligibility for next Spring, it is highly likely that they won’t be able to attend college as a full-time student next Fall. This is because they may only be granted one additional semester or quarter and will need to “save it” for next Spring.

I posed that specific scenario to an NCAA staff member last week via Twitter and was told “That is accurate.” It’s possible that things could change in the coming weeks or months but be sure to keep this in mind until I can provide a more detailed update.

NCAA Recruiting

Division I and II coaches are banned from any in-person recruiting activity until at least April 15. No on or off-campus recruiting activity and no official or unofficial visits to campus by recruits during this time.

However, phone calls as well as written and “electronic communication” are still permitted (emails, text messages, social media messages as allowed under the recruiting rules for Division I and II based on a recruit’s sport and year in school).

As a result of the recruiting ban noted above, the NCAA National Letter of Intent can’t be issued to recruits or signed until April 15 at the earliest. NLI’s that had already been issued to recruits and signed prior to March 16 are still valid.

The Division I football signing period which is normally available until April 1 will be extended by 30 days. The Division I basketball signing period which would normally begin on April 15 will be considered during the next few weeks and an update will be provided.

NAIA Current Student-Athletes

All NAIA spring sport seasons are cancelled, as are any remaining winter championships. No spring sport student-athlete will be charged with a season of competition.

“Any spring sport student-athlete who was enrolled full-time in 2020 will be awarded two additional semester terms of attendance” according to a March 16 release.

NJCAA Student-Athletes & Recruits

The NJCAA announced yesterday afternoon that the Division I and II men’s and women’s NJCAA basketball championships, as well as all spring sports competition and practices, have been cancelled.

On and off-campus recruiting for all NJCAA sports “…will be halted until April 15…” with further consideration at that time.

No spring sport student-athletes will be charged with a year of eligibility. Also, because many student-athletes will be returning for another year that had not been expected, scholarship limits for the 2020-21 season will be increased, with details to be “…vetted by the Eligibility Committee.”

CCCAA Current Student-Athletes

The CCCAA men’s and women’s basketball championships have been cancelled. All spring sports competition as well as practices have been suspended indefinitely.

No determination has been made regarding student-athlete eligibility, but it is a “…central question facing the association.” The CCCAA is working with the NCAA, NAIA, and other associations to determine next steps.

A Special Note for Junior College Athletes

  • If an athlete is currently attending a junior college and receives an additional year of eligibility from the NJCAA or the CCCAA, be aware that the additional year might not be automatically honored by the NCAA (or NAIA) when a junior college athlete transfers to an NCAA or NAIA program.
  • Also, academic eligibility at an NCAA program often depends upon the number of semesters that an athlete attended a junior college as a full-time student. Attending a two-year college for an additional year or semester could possibly have negative consequences on your academic eligibility when you transfer to join an NCAA athletic program.

Advice to Consider

  • Be sure that your athlete maintains their focus on their academic coursework to ensure that they have a chance to be eligible next year. While some athletes may become depressed or lose focus on their academics as a result of losing their season, if they don’t successfully complete their classes this semester, it can damage their eligibility for next year.
  • Some bedrock NCAA and NAIA rules won’t change if your athlete returns for an extra season next year. For one, they will need to be taking a full-time course load to be eligible for practice and competition next year. Will they be willing and able to pay for another year of college if they’ve already graduated and were originally planning to start their post-college life?
  • Because many colleges are moving classes online, make sure that your athlete takes steps to save all of their assignments and can track when an assignment or test was submitted. The last problem you want them to have is an eligibility issue because the professor didn’t receive a test or assignment by the required deadline or didn’t receive it at all.
  • In the very unlikely anticipation that schools might possibly “wipe out” their stats for this season, you may want to take a screenshot or photo of the team’s stat sheet on the athletic website to record how many games your athlete appeared in and how many total games were played by the team this season in case that’s needed for a waiver to get another year of eligibility.
  • Follow the social media page(s) for your school’s athletic compliance office as they will be posting updates for student-athletes at that particular college. (By the way, you can follow us on Twitter @InformedAthlete or on our Facebook page.)
  • If an athlete is currently attending a junior college and receives a waiver for an additional year of eligibility from the NJCAA or the CCCAA, be aware that such a waiver may not be automatically honored by the NCAA (or NAIA) when a junior college athlete transfers to an NCAA or NAIA program. For example, academic eligibility at an NCAA program often depends in part upon the number of semesters that an athlete attended a junior college as a full-time student.

Do you Need Assistance?

If you have questions about how your student-athlete is affected by the current situation, they’re considering a transfer or have questions about their eligibility, we can answer all your concerns and provide options and a scenarios in a confidential consultation.

Schedule a scholarship strategies consult online or by calling us at 913-766-1235 or sending an email to