As the country continues to travel into uncharted waters and begins what many feel is a new norm, the NCAA is having to make changes to their policies to accommodate the fluid situation as well.

They started making these changes soon after the cancellation of the spring semester and have now added some more changes. These new changes will affect incoming freshman athletes.

According to Felicia Martin of the NCAA Eligibility Center, students hoping to play NCAA Division I or II sports whose final semesters of their senior year were ended due to the COVID-19 pandemic now will have many different ways to meet the NCAA’s initial eligibility requirements this year.

Felicia Martin, vice president of the NCAA Eligibility Center stated…

“The Eligibility Center is navigating the complexity of COVID-19 and its negative impact on our membership, high schools and student-athletes. We understand this is an unprecedented situation and a difficult time for students and their parents and the Eligibility Center is working diligently to ensure the best possible outcome for college-bound student athletes and our member schools.”

Membership committees in both divisions looked over the initial eligibility data and decided that the NCAA would offer flexibility for incoming student athletes. This was based on research, fairness, equity, and a standard of college readiness.

Students expected to graduate from high school in time to enroll in a Division I school for the 2020-21 academic year will be academically eligible by earning a 2.3 GPA in 10 NCAA approved core courses with a combined seven courses in english, math, and science, by the start of their seventh semester in high school (prior to senior year).

These criteria do not require a standardized test score and will not apply to students who are expected to graduate after spring or summer 2020.

International students expected to graduate from high school in time to enroll in a Division I or II school for the 2020-21 academic year will be eligible for an automatic initial eligibility waiver if they complete at least 10 core course units before starting the seventh semester with at least a 2.3 (DI) or 2.2 (DII) GPA in those courses.

Students looking to enroll at a Division II school after graduating from high school this spring or summer the standard will be completion of 10 NCAA approved core courses by their seventh semester in high school (prior to senior year) with at least a 2.2 GPA in those courses.

These standards will be considered automatic waivers for both Divisions I and II. This will mean the students meeting these criteria are academically eligible to receive an athletics scholarship, practice, and compete in their first year at an NCAA member school.

Students also could qualify using the normal Division I standard for practice, competition, and athletics aid (16 core courses with at least a 2.3 GPA and a test score that matches their SAT or ACT score) or Division II standard (16 core courses with at least a 2.2 GPA and a test score that matches their SAT or ACT score).

Finally, many students already know they are academically qualified to compete because they met the early academic qualifier standard for either Division I or II.

Martin was also quoted as saying…

“We are keenly aware of the educational disruptions and academic uncertainty that prospective student-athletes are experiencing,” Martin said. “To that end, the Eligibility Center is committed to providing support and flexibility in application of initial-eligibility requirements as we remain nimble for additional issues we can’t predict or forecast.”

Felicia Martin, vice president of the NCAA Eligibility Center

In addition, the Eligibility Center will modify its approach to schools that issue pass/fail grades due to school closures. Usually, a “pass” on a student’s transcript is awarded the school’s lowest passing grade. This is often a D and is assigned 1.0 quality points.

For courses completed in spring and summer 2020 with a “pass” grade, the Eligibility Center will apply the credit earned in those courses toward the core course requirement. If the core GPA would increase by assigning a value of 2.3 (the minimum GPA to qualify to compete in Division I), that value will be assigned to passed courses. If the 2.3 mark would decrease the student’s overall GPA, the core-course GPA will be calculated based only on courses with assigned letter grades from other available terms.

This policy will apply to students from all grade levels who have pass/fail grades in NCAA approved core courses in spring/summer 2020 due to the COVID-19 response.

Students enrolling in Division I schools will also be allowed up to six core courses completed after starting the seventh semester of high school and before full-time enrollment in college. Regardless of whether the student graduated on time or when the courses are completed.

This approach will allow students impacted by school closures to complete additional core courses toward their initial eligibility. This is the current rule for Division II. The normal D1 rule allows only one core course to be completed after graduation.

The Eligibility Center has also adjusted it’s operations in other ways to help prospective student athletes, their parents, and high schools during this pandemic. Students are encouraged to complete their courses as recommended by their school, district, and/or state department of education though.

This Pandemic has many things changing and they will affect many athletes and numerous athletic programs for years to come. All Tiger fans can hope is that it doesn’t affect the athletes in a negative way.

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