In 2015, the NCAA Division I “Power 5” Schools implemented a rule that has the effect of “protecting” Division I student-athletes from having their athletic scholarship cancelled or not renewed for any athletics reason.  Quite simply, a coach cannot take away a scholarship for poor athletic performance.

Here are several facts about this rule:
– This new rule was voted in by the universities of the “Power 5” conferences – the ACC, Big Ten, Big 12, PAC-12, and SEC, as well as Notre Dame. This rule must be followed by these 65 universities.
Other Division I schools and conferences can choose to follow this rule, but are not required to do so. So, an athlete receiving an athletic scholarship from a university that is NOT one of the 65 mentioned here might still receive a one-year scholarship which a coach can choose not to renew for the following academic year.
– The “protection” provided by this rule only applies to athletes who signed their National Letter of Intent and scholarship agreement after the new rule was approved in January of this year (at the NCAA Convention), will be enrolling in a Division I university as a freshman or new transfer this Fall, AND who will be receiving an athletic scholarship in their first year of enrollment.
– The rule will NOT apply to athletes who are not receiving an athletic scholarship in their first year of enrollment at their university. (Example: a volleyball player not receiving an athletic scholarship in their freshman year, but promised one in the following three years, will not receive the protection of this new rule.)
– It is still possible for universities to cancel or choose to not renew a scholarship for  reasons that are NOT related to athletic performance.

Cancellation or non-renewal IS possible if an athlete:

  • Is ruled to be ineligible for competition;
  • Provides fraudulent information on an application, letter of intent, or financial aid agreement;
  • Engages in serious misconduct that rises to the level of being disciplined by the university’s regular student disciplinary board;
  • Voluntarily quits their team; or
  • Violates a university policy or rule which is not related to athletic conditions or ability (such as a university policy on class attendance, or an athletic department policy regarding proper conduct on a team trip).

Despite this rule, there will still be some Division I coaches who want to take away the scholarship of an athlete who is not performing as well as the coach anticipated during the recruiting process.
My advice to athletes and parents is to review very carefully any athletic department rules and policies that spell out the non-athletic reasons that can be cited for the cancellation or non-renewal of an athletic scholarship.
If you have questions about the rules regarding athletic scholarships, or about recruiting rules, academic eligibility or transfer requirements, contact Rick Allen at 913-766-1235 or send an e-mail to rick@informedathlete.com.