Xavier Rathan-Mayes, a key incoming basketball recruit for Florida State, will not suit up for the team in games or practice this year after not being cleared by the NCAA Eligibility Center. Rathan-Mayes will be allowed to receive a scholarship though, which means he received a partial initial eligibility waiver.
Back in the bad old days of the NCAA Clearinghouse and older versions of the initial eligibility rules, prospects could be ruled qualifiers, nonqualifiers, or partial qualifiers. Partial qualifiers have not existed in Division I since 2005 but will return in 2016 as “academic redshirts” under the new initial eligibility rules. In the meantime, their spirit lives on the initial eligibility waiver process. After a prospect is ruled a final nonqualifier by the Eligibility Center, the institution may filed a waiver on his behalf that can be approved, denied, or partially approved.
As Mike DeCourcy pointed out, partially approved waivers can take on different forms, including allowing no practice at all, allowing practice if certain academic benchmarks are met in the first term, or allowing practice throughout the first year. Initial eligibility waivers are now weighted heavily toward the concept of academic preparedness, with special attention paid to GPA and test scores. Prospects with stronger GPAs and test scores but who missed the core course credit requirement have the best chance for fully approved waivers or partially approved waivers that allow more practice.
This attitude can be seen in the coming initial eligibility changes in 2016. All of the new rules either raise the GPA requirement or strengthen the GPA calculation. A prospect with a sufficient GPA and test score under the old requirements will not compete the first year if it was not earned according to the new standards which give more confidence in the calculations.