Medical Hardship Waivers – What You Should Know

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 or call our office at 913-766-1235.