The NCAA has approved a slew of updates to offer teams, coaches and athletes increased flexibility in response to the restrictions put in place in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Thursday, the association announced that all Division I sports are now allowed to hold team meetings and other “non-physical activities.” Teams across all sports can now require up to eight hours per week of virtual non-physical countable activities like “film review, chalk talks and team meetings,” the announcement said. Student-athletes still must be provided at least one day off per week.
Required physical activity is still off-the-table, as the NCAA mandates that a sports-safety certified staff member be present during those activities. Teams in all sports are prohibited from requiring any activities starting one week before, and through the entirety of, a school’s final exam period for the Spring 2020 term.
“This change not only allows coaches to continue to educate their student-athletes but also fosters the connectivity that comes with team-based activities,” Division I Council chair M. Grace Calhoun. “Regular, individual check-ins between student-athletes and coaches remain permissible and are encouraged.”
Division II’s administrative committee approved waivers regarding virtual recruiting, committed student-athletes and transcript requirements.
The committees approved a “blanket waiver to permit student-athletes to be involved in recruiting correspondence (such as phone calls or videoconferences) at the direction of a coaching staff member with prospective high school student-athletes graduating in 2020 during the dead period in place through at least May 31.” That applies to prospective transfers from both two-year and four-year institutions.
The committee also voted to allow committed student-athletes – those who have signed a National Letter of Intent or the institution’s written offer of admission and/or financial aid, or for whom the institution has received a financial deposit in response to its offer of admission – to participate in virtual, non-physical team meetings.
Finally, both Division I and II approved tweaks to initial-eligibility academic requirements as they relate to high school student-athletes who had their final semester of school and play cut short.
“Membership committees in both Divisions I and II reviewed initial-eligibility data and determined the NCAA would offer flexibility for incoming student-athletes based on research, fairness, equity and a standard of college readiness,” the announcement says. Most prominently, a standardized test score will not be required for students expected to graduate from high school in time to enroll in a Division I or II school for the 2020-21 academic year.
Check out all the updated academic eligibility requirements here.