The NCAA released three education columns regarding the men’s basketball changes from last year. One is about the men’s basketball recruiting model and generally has nothing groundbreaking. Another regarding on-campus evaluations (a.k.a. tryouts) has nothing of note either, except perhaps how the NCAA has enabled tryouts for midyear transfers. But one, regarding summer practice in men’s basketball has three interesting questions and answers about nonqualifiers.
The first question is about athletes enrolled in summer school who have not yet been certified as qualifiers:
Question No. 10: Must an incoming student-athlete be certified as eligible to practice in order to participate in required summer athletics activities?
Two more questions ask about athletes who have been certified as nonqualifiers by the Eligibility Center:
Question No. 16: May a student-athlete who has been certified as a nonqualifier participate in required summer athletics activities during the summer prior to initial full-time enrollment at the certifying institution?
Answer: Yes, provided he is enrolled in summer school and the activities are conducted during the time period (term or terms) in which the student-athlete is enrolled, which includes only the time from the opening day of classes through the last day of final exams for each applicable term.
Question No. 17: If a student-athlete was certified as a nonqualifier during the academic year, when may he begin to engage in required summer athletics activities after the year in residence?
Answer: Such a student-athlete may begin to participate in required summer athletics activities the day following the institution’s spring commencement exercises, provided the student-athlete is enrolled in summer school or meets the exception to summer school enrollment.
The answer to question 17 makes sense. The student-athlete would have fulfilled his academic year in residence and can now start practice. This would be similar to transfers becoming eligible to play on a foreign tour in the summer after their year in residence.
But questions 10 and 16 have the potential for greater impact, especially in light of what question 17 confirms. If prospects who have not been certified by the Eligibility Center can practice, coaches will push for them to be admitted to summer school so that they can get a head start with the team. If prospects can continue to practice during the summer and immediately after the academic year even when certified as nonqualifiers, coaches will push for them to stay.
That will not happen in conferences that have a strict nonqualifier rule, which in some cases all but forces the prospect to leave the school before the start of the fall term. But having enrolled in summer school has a big impact, particularly because the prospect is considered a transfer at that point, and would normally have to sit out if he went directly to another four-year school.
The end result is that we may see more men’s basketball prospects who start summer school before being certified as qualifiers or even as nonqualifier. More athletes may remain on campus as nonqualifiers after going through summer school and summer practice. And some players may leave the school but still be under the control of the first school by trigger transfer status.