NCAA Issues Interps on Medical Hardship Waivers, Facility Use, and Foreign Tours

On Friday, February 28, 2014, the NCAA issued three staff interpretations on various topics. One impacts how eligibility for a medical hardship waiver (“medical redshirt”) is calculated. Another limits who can assist with an outside team’s use of facilities if prospects are involved. And a third loosens one of the restrictions on foreign tours.

To be eligible for a medical hardship waiver, a student-athlete’s injury has to occur before the start of the second half of the season. Team and individual sports have different ways of calculating the halfway point of the season. To calculate the halfway point in team sports, institutions add up their scheduled or completed contests up to the maximum, divide by two, and round down if necessary. The question the interp addresses is how to include a conference tournament which may include multiple contests or which the institution might miss entirely:

The academic and membership affairs staff determined that, in team sports, a conference championship is counted as one contest or date of competition in determining the first half of the season for hardship waivers, regardless of the number of days or games involved in the championship. If the calculation is based on scheduled contests or dates of competition, the conference championship is counted as one contest or date of competition if it appeared on the institution’s schedule prior to the first scheduled contest or date of competition; however, if the calculation is based on completed contests or dates of competition, the institution must have participated in the conference championship.

For example, if a basketball team plays 27 games, than the halfway point will be the start of the 13th game. If the team plays 27 regular season games and a conference tournament, the halfway point will be the start of the 14th game.

Groups involving prospective student-athletes often use facilities at Division I schools. That can include renting out facilities to teams for practice or hosting competitions. This raises the possibility that coaches will use the event to get some extra time evaluating prospects outside of normal recruiting periods. The interp issued yesterday cuts them out:

The academic and membership affairs staff determined that noncoaching staff members without sport-specific responsibilities and representatives of an institution’s athletics interests may perform their regular job responsibilities incidental to supervising the use of the institution’s facilities while the facilities are in use for physical activities by a group that includes prospective student-athletes (e.g., security, operating the scoreboard, third-party vendors staffing ticket booth or concession stands, field maintenance). However, a countable coach or noncoaching staff member with sport specific responsibilities may not be involved in the conduct, promotion or administration of the event, including supervising the use of the institution’s facilities, regardless of the nature of his or her regular job responsibilities.

Finally, the NCAA made it a bit easier for teams leaving on a foreign tour to get on the road:

The academic and membership affairs staff determined it is permissible for student-athletes to depart for a foreign tour prior to the start of the institution’s official vacation period, provided all participating student-athletes have completed their classes or exams and no special arrangements are made to rearrange classes or exams.

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