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Can a coach take away my scholarship without telling me?

The subject of losing a scholarship is always very touchy because the process is never easy. Usually, if you ask a coach and the athlete what the story is, the truth lies somewhere in the middle. Almost never does an athlete just have their scholarship taken away (usually they never had it in the first place) and athletes don’t always have a clear set of guidelines on what it takes to keep the scholarship. Here are some of the common situations we see for athletes losing their scholarship or having it taken away.

“I signed a National Letter of Intent and didn’t get a scholarship.”

This is one of the most common situations we see. Signing an NLI does not mean you are getting a scholarship; it is only your commitment to the university. The school should also be providing a “scholarship/financial aid agreement” along with your NLI, which is their contract to provide you with a scholarship. Keep in mind, you could still be in an over signing situation, where a school signs more athletes then they have scholarships and have to leave a couple athletes without scholarships. This doesn’t happen very often and usually only at the top DI level, but always something to be cautious of.

“I was injured and lost my scholarship”

Each conference, school and coach handles injuries differently. Keep in mind we are referring to injuries sustained outside of games or practice with the university. for example, playing in a summer league and getting injured. Some schools won’t allow a coach to pull a scholarship if you got hurt , while other schools are allowed to pull a scholarship if you get hurt. This is why it is critical to read the language of your scholarship agreement and ask a coach what happens if you get injured outside of competition or practice. Depending on the agreement you signed, coaches can pull a scholarship in this case.

“The coach told me they won’t be renewing my scholarship”

This can happen for several reasons, but it is typically because of the athlete’s performance (on or off the field). Scholarships are one year deals and depending on the competitiveness of the program, coaches will sometimes not renew the scholarships of athletes who aren’t contributing to the team. They will use that scholarship in an effort to bring in new athletes who can. That situation is for on-field “lack of performance” but you can also lose a scholarship for off the field behavior. If you are getting into trouble don’t be surprised if you lose your scholarship.

*coaches have until July 1st to notify you in writing if will not be receiving your scholarship. With this notification they will also provide you with the documents you would need to have a hearing about your case.

“The coach took away my scholarship in the middle of the year”

This almost never happens because coaches know they are not allowed to take a scholarship away mid-school year without a reason. The truth in these situations lies somewhere between the coach’s story and the athletes. Coaches can pull a scholarship mid-year for 3 reasons: 1) you are ineligible, 2) misrepresent information in a university document or 3) withdrawal from the team. The interpretation of these rules falls to the university and the coach. If you feel you have not violated these rules and lost your scholarship mid-year, you are allowed to file for reconsideration with your athletic department. You will need to contact them to do so.

“There is a new coach and they aren’t renewing my scholarship”

There is no way around it; this is the worst part of a coaching change. At the end of the day, your scholarship is only renewed if the coach decides they want to renew it. Many times new coaches come in and in an effort to get players in that fit their system, they will clean house of current athletes. This means a lot of athletes with scholarships or that are inline for a scholarship the next year won’t be getting one. There isn’t anything that can be done other then transfer or try to work it out with the new coach.

“I am not eligible to compete and lost my scholarship”

This is pretty self explanatory; if you aren’t eligible to play, coaches probably aren’t going to give you a scholarship. Some programs will keep athletes on scholarship if you are an essential part of the team but most programs won’t be willing to sacrifice a scholarship for an athlete who can’t contribute that year. In this situation work with your athletic department to find out what you need to get eligible. Many times this requires transferring to a Junior College because an athlete can’t afford to stay at a school without a scholarship.

If you have particular questions, please contact me on Google+ (my email is available there).

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