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NCAA Division III Approves Blanket Student-Athlete COVID-19 Waivers for 2020-21 Seasons

A week after the NCAA Division III Membership Committee encouraged institutions to make the best decisions for their student-athletes’ “happiness, health and safety,” the Division’s Administrative Committee has provided some administrative relief for institutions should the ongoing impact of  COVID-19 affect 2020-21 seasons of athletic competition.

Two blanket waivers have been approved for all Division III sports:

  1. All student-athletes whose sports fail to complete more than 50% of their maximum contests/dates of competition due to COVID-19 will receive a season-of-competition waiver to ensure they can have an opportunity for four meaningful seasons of participation.
  2. Any student-athlete who is unable to participate due to COVID-19 or their team fails to complete more than 50% of their maximum contests/dates of competition due to COVID-19 and the student-athlete is otherwise eligible for the 2020-21 season is eligible for a two-semester/three-quarter extension of eligibility to extend their 10 semester/15 quarter eligibility clock and alleviate an institution’s need to file an additional extension of eligibility waiver if the student-athlete seeks to maintain full-time enrollment.

These waivers will eliminate eligibility concerns as institutions face competition decisions as the 2020-21 year progresses and alleviate the administrative burden should seasons need to be cancelled after they begin.

The waivers also permit student-athletes to make more informed enrollment decisions prior to the upcoming academic year.

For teams that complete more than 50% of their maximum contests/dates of competition, individual waivers may still be pursued on a case-by-case basis through the regular waiver process. Waivers typically require circumstances beyond a student-athlete’s control, hardship, or other extenuating circumstances. The extent to which other COIVD-19-related circumstances will satisfy these typical waiver requirements remains to be seen.

Jackson Lewis P.C. © 2020National Law Review, Volume X, Number 195


About this Author

Bernard G. Dennis III,  Jackson Lewis Collegiate and Professional Sports General Employment Litigation General Employment Litigation

Bernard G. Dennis, III is an Associate in the Washington, D.C. Region office of Jackson Lewis P.C.  He assists clients in the investigation and defense of wage and hour, discrimination, and retaliation claims before administrative agencies and state and federal courts, including class and collective actions.

Prior to joining Jackson Lewis, Mr. Dennis worked with a Mid-Atlantic litigation law firm where he provided counsel to clients involved in construction, employment, and professional liability disputes including director and officer liability claims.

Gregg E. Clifton, Collegiate Sports Attorney, Jackson Lewis, disciplinary hearings Lawyer
Office Managing Principal

Gregg E. Clifton is Office Managing Principal of the Phoenix, Arizona, office of Jackson Lewis P.C. He is Co-Leader of the Collegiate and Professional Sports Practice Group and serves as one of the editors of the firm’s sports law blog.

Mr. Clifton has extensive experience in the collegiate and professional sports world. He has advised numerous professional franchises on general labor and employment issues, including Title III ADA regulatory compliance and wage and hour issues. He serves as lead counsel for several Major League Baseball teams in their salary arbitration matters and has represented NCAA and NAIA collegiate clients regarding rules compliance, investigatory matters and in disciplinary hearings. In addition, he has handled Title IX investigations and compliance issues for NCAA and NAIA member institutions. 

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