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We’ve been receiving many calls recently with questions about the rules for a “medical redshirt” or what is officially called a Medical Hardship Waiver.

Many spring sports are quickly approaching the midpoint of their season. For an athlete to qualify for a Medical Hardship Waiver, one of the rules is that the injury or illness must have occurred prior to the first game of the second half of their season. Also, the injury must be medically documented to be “season-ending.”

It’s very important that an athlete see a doctor sooner than later when they are injured or ill.

For example, let’s say that an athlete is injured before the midpoint of their season but doesn’t get to the doctor for an evaluation (x-ray, MRI, etc) until they are two or three weeks PAST the midpoint of the season. Waiting that long to see a doctor may jeopardize their chances that a Medical Hardship Waiver is approved.

Injured or ill athletes who are concerned that their condition might be serious enough to be “season-ending” in nature, should see a doctor as soon as possible rather than waiting to hope the condition improves. Waiting may cost them a chance to receive a Medical Hardship Waiver.

Do you have questions?

For information on how we can help, click NCAA Medical Hardship Waiver Prep & Assistance or call us at 913-766-1235.

If a student-athlete appears in competition in the early part of their season but is injured or ill to the point that they are not able to complete their season due to “circumstances beyond their control” it’s quite possible that they might qualify to get their season of eligibility “over again” through a Medical Hardship Waiver.

A Medical Hardship Waiver is possible at most every level of college athletics – from junior college, to NAIA, and to each division of the NCAA – but some colleges don’t have a good procedure in place to make sure that the waiver is submitted in a timely manner.

I have seen cases where the head coach of a sport thought it was the responsibility of the sports medicine staff to prepare the medical hardship waiver, while the sports medicine staff thought the responsibility was on the coach to inform the compliance office of an athlete’s need for such a waiver.

Don’t let your athlete lose valuable time and possibly their eligibility status if it’s unclear what office or staff member is responsible for getting the Medical Hardship Waiver prepared and submitted.

If you want to know if your athlete qualifies for a Medical Hardship Waiver, contact us for a confidential consultation to explain the rules and guidelines for a waiver, and to describe how the process should work. Contact us at 913-766-1235, or send an email to rick@informedathlete.com.

To schedule a private consultation or email consultation online, click Waivers & Appeals Consult Options.

In most cases, any amount of participation in a game or contest against another team counts as a season of eligibility used.

The only way to get that season “over again” will be 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 specific limitations for the number of contests that an athlete can participate in and still qualify for a hardship waiver.  Here’s a link to an article we’ve written on this topic:    http://informedathlete.com/medical-hardship-waivers/

If your student-athlete is considering the possibility of a waiver, call us at 913-766-1235 if you’d like to discuss your situation in a private consultation.  

I’m often asked by student-athletes “how many games can I play and still be considered a redshirt for this season?” The answer is that, with few exceptions, any amount of time spent in a contest for your college will count as a season of eligibility used.

You could be a softball athlete who comes in to pinch run late in a game, a baseball pitcher who throws just one pitch to get the game-ending double play, or a lacrosse athlete who comes into a game for just a minute or two – in each case, you have now used one of your four seasons of college eligibility in your sport.

However, for an athlete who has appeared in a game or games for their team and then becomes injured, or comes down with a serious illness that prevents them from being able to participate in any more games during the season, it’s possible to obtain a medical hardship waiver which will allow them to retain this season of eligibility. In essence, it’s possible for them to get this year “over again” (as long as they haven’t exhausted their five-year or ten-semester window of opportunity).

Here’s a brief overview of the medical hardship waiver rules for the various levels of college competition. Please note that at all levels, medical documentation from the time of the actual diagnosis of the injury or illness will need to be submitted with the waiver request to substantiate that the injury or illness was truly “season ending.”

NCAA Division I – An athlete must not have participated in more than three contests or 30 percent of their season schedule (whichever is greater) and not after the halfway point of the season (based on the number of contests rather than a particular date).

NCAA Division II – For seasons prior to Fall 2017, an athlete must not have participated in more than two contests or 20 percent of their season schedule (whichever is greater). For Division II, unlike Division I and Division III, it’s possible for an athlete to appear in competition after the midpoint of the season and still qualify for a medical hardship waiver.

NCAA Division II, new rule Fall 2017 – An athlete must not have participated in more than three contests or 30 percent of their season schedule (whichever is greater) and not after the halfway point of the season (based on the number of contests rather than a particular date).

NCAA Division III – An athlete must not have participated in more than one-third of the maximum number of contests in a particular sport, plus one contest. (Determine how many contests constitute one-third of the maximum permissible, and then add one.) Also, the athlete must not have participated after the midpoint of the season (based on number of contests rather than a particular date).

NAIA – There is a specific limit for each sport in the NAIA that applies to a hardship request. For example, the limit (which was increased for some sports starting in the 2015-16 academic year) is 11 games for baseball, but 6 dates of competition in softball (since they often play doubleheaders). It is possible for an NAIA athlete to participate after the midpoint of the season and still qualify for a hardship waiver, but if the athlete competes after being examined by a physician for their injury or illness, their opportunity for a waiver is nullified.

NJCAA – Junior college athletes at an NJCAA college must not have participated in more than 20 percent of their maximum allowed season schedule and not after the halfway point of the season.

CCCAA – Junior college athletes at a CCCAA college must not have participated in more than 20 percent of their completed contests (if prior to July 1, 2016) and not after the halfway point of the season. Starting with Fall 2016, the maximum participation was raised to 30 percent from 20 percent.
Here’s another example of a call I have received: “What if my daughter had surgery, but the coach was redshirting her anyway and she never played in a game last season? Is it necessary to request a medical hardship waiver for last season?
The answer to that depends on a few different factors, but could be important later on in her career to possibly gain an additional year of eligibility.

If you have questions about medical hardship waivers, freshman or transfer academic requirements, or appeals, we offer fee-based confidential consultations. Please call us at 913-766-1235 to set your appointment or send me an email to rick@informedathlete.com.