The ultimate goal of so many young athletes is to earn an athletic scholarship and participate in collegiate athletics. Whether a scholarship is awarded at the Division I or Division II level, there are responsibilities that a student-athlete has to ensure he or she keeps their athletic scholarship. Athletic scholarships can be reduced or withdrawn from a student-athlete for various reasons. If you have questions about NCAA scholarship rules and regulations, then it is important to speak to an experienced attorney as soon as possible.
Are NCAA Athletic Scholarships Guaranteed?
Once a student-athlete is awarded an athletic scholarship, it is important to know that this scholarship is not guaranteed. Athletic scholarships at the Division I and Division II level are limited and can be reduced or withdrawn from a student-athlete. Athletic scholarships are also only given year to year. This means that an athletic scholarship is not a four-year scholarship. It essentially becomes a series of one-year scholarships until a student-athlete runs out of athletic eligibility. Athletic scholarships can even be awarded from term to term by college coaches. All NCAA-member institutions have the discretion to decide whether to renew a student-athlete's scholarship or not. This decision is ultimately based on each individual school's internal policies and not based on a blanket NCAA rule.
Division III schools are not permitted to give athletic scholarships, but most Division III athletes are given financial aid which can cover their school expenses in the same way that a scholarship operates. Since this financial aid is not technically based on being a student-athlete, the student can keep this aid even if he or she does not continue as a student-athlete.
Difference Between the Academic Year and Future Years
There are two different relevant time periods when discussing NCAA athletic scholarships, the academic year and future years. An academic year refers to the year when the athletic scholarship is issued. Athletic scholarships are given some level of protection during an academic year. A student-athlete cannot lose their athletic scholarship during an academic year due to an athletic reason such as their athletic performance, abilities, or injury. A student-athlete can lose their scholarship during an academic year for other reasons, such as misconduct, misrepresentation, or voluntarily quitting the team.
Future years refer to years after when an athletic scholarship is first issued. Athletic scholarships for future years are not guaranteed and are given much less protection. As long as the coach follows the proper internal university procedures and policies regarding athletic scholarships, the coach is free to renew or cancel a future athletic scholarship.
What Rights Do Schools Have Regarding Scholarship Decisions?
NCAA-member institutions have full authority to determine what policies they will adopt and follow regarding scholarship decisions. As long as a student-athlete's scholarship is not taken away during an academic year for athletic reasons, schools and coaches generally have autonomy regarding scholarship decisions. The NCAA bylaws specifically allow institutions to each have their own individual regulations and normal practices with regards to financial aid awards such as athletic scholarships.
What Are Some Academic Reasons Why an Athletic Scholarship Can Be Reduced or Withdrawn?
There are several reasons why an athletic scholarship can be reduced or withdrawn. One of the most common reasons is a student-athlete's grade point average (GPA). The NCAA has minimum standards that student-athletes must meet to remain eligible for participation in collegiate athletics. NCAA-member institutions also have minimum GPA standards that are typically higher than the minimums set by the NCAA. A student-athlete may be eligible for an athletic scholarship at one school but may not be eligible at another if he or she doesn't maintain a GPA high enough to meet the school's minimum requirement. If a student-athlete is rendered ineligible due to a low GPA, then it can ultimately result in the loss of their athletic scholarship. A student-athlete must also make satisfactory academic progress to maintain an athletic scholarship. If a student-athlete does not take and pass the required number of class credits, then he or she can be declared ineligible. A student-athlete must also be a full-time student to participate in collegiate sports. The only exception to this rule is for graduating seniors.
What Factors Can a Student-Athlete Control Regarding Scholarship Loss or Reduction?
If a student-athlete is eligible to participate in collegiate sports academically, then this still does not guarantee that they will keep their athletic scholarship. There are several factors that a student-athlete does have control over, they include:
- Attitude: If a student-athlete has a negative attitude that affects others on the team, then the coach can cut the player from the team or pull their scholarship. The culture of a collegiate sports program is very important to coaches, and they will do what they can to protect the culture they are trying to build and maintain.
- Outside injury: Student-athletes are expected to avoid risky behavior that can cause injury. For instance, if a student-athlete is hurt while snowboarding or waterskiing, their coach can pull the player from competition. Getting injured outside of a student-athlete's regular play or training can result in the loss of a scholarship if the injury is serious.
- Misconduct: If a student-athlete gets into trouble with the law or violates a school policy, then their misconduct can result in the loss or reduction of a scholarship. College campuses are full of young students who are facing temptations to act inappropriately. If a student-athlete does not exhibit the required level of self-control, then their conduct can cost them their athletic scholarship.
- Study abroad: It is generally very difficult for a scholarship athlete to spend a semester studying abroad due to team and school requirements. If a student-athlete decides to take a semester off from being a part of the team, then this can result in the loss of their athletic scholarship.
- Quitting: If a student-athlete quits the team, then they will lose their athletic scholarship. This option is typically final and cannot be reversed. It can be advisable to speak to an attorney regarding the ramifications of quitting your collegiate team if that is your desire.
It is uncommon for student-athletes to lose their athletic scholarship if they have a bad season or if a new head coach is hired. While most coaches will clean house regarding existing team staff, the athletes on the team are generally safe from losing their athletic scholarships. As you can see, there are several reasons why a student-athlete may have their athletic scholarship reduced or withdrawn. If you have legal questions about your athletic scholarship, then call attorney Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm so we can help!
Why Hiring the Lento Law Firm is the Right Choice
If you are facing a potential reduction or loss of your athletic scholarship, then it is important to seek the advice of an experienced attorney. Attorney Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm have successfully represented countless student-athletes across the country facing scholarship reduction and withdrawal actions and other challenges at their schools and universities. Call us today at 888-535-3686 to learn why hiring the Lento Law Firm is the right choice to help with your NCAA scholarship issue.