A week after the NCAA Division III Membership Committee encouraged institutions to make the best decisions for their student-athletes’ “happiness, health and safety,” the Division’s Administrative Committee has provided some administrative relief for institutions should the ongoing impact of  COVID-19 affect 2020-21 seasons of athletic competition.

Two blanket waivers have been approved for all Division III sports:

  1. All student-athletes whose sports fail to complete more than 50% of their maximum contests/dates of competition due to COVID-19 will receive a season-of-competition waiver to ensure they can have an opportunity for four meaningful seasons of participation.
  2. Any student-athlete who is unable to participate due to COVID-19 or their team fails to complete more than 50% of their maximum contests/dates of competition due to COVID-19 and the student-athlete is otherwise eligible for the 2020-21 season is eligible for a two-semester/three-quarter extension of eligibility to extend their 10 semester/15 quarter eligibility clock and alleviate an institution’s need to file an additional extension of eligibility waiver if the student-athlete seeks to maintain full-time enrollment.

These waivers will eliminate eligibility concerns as institutions face competition decisions as the 2020-21 year progresses and alleviate the administrative burden should seasons need to be cancelled after they begin.

The waivers also permit student-athletes to make more informed enrollment decisions prior to the upcoming academic year.

For teams that complete more than 50% of their maximum contests/dates of competition, individual waivers may still be pursued on a case-by-case basis through the regular waiver process. Waivers typically require circumstances beyond a student-athlete’s control, hardship, or other extenuating circumstances. The extent to which other COIVD-19-related circumstances will satisfy these typical waiver requirements remains to be seen.

Jackson Lewis’ Collegiate and Professional Sports Practice Group will continue to monitor the NCAA in its ongoing response to COVID-19. Please feel free to reach out to any member of the Collegiate and Professional Sports Practice Group with questions.

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Photo of Gregg E. Clifton Gregg E. Clifton

Gregg E. Clifton is a Principal in the Phoenix, Arizona, office of Jackson Lewis P.C. He is Co-Leader of the Collegiate and Professional Sports Practice Group and serves as the editor of the firm’s sports law blog.

Mr. Clifton has extensive experience in…

Gregg E. Clifton is a Principal in the Phoenix, Arizona, office of Jackson Lewis P.C. He is Co-Leader of the Collegiate and Professional Sports Practice Group and serves as the editor of the firm’s sports law blog.

Mr. Clifton has extensive experience in the collegiate and professional sports world. He has advised numerous professional franchises on general labor and employment issues, including Title III ADA regulatory compliance and wage and hour issues. He serves as lead counsel for several Major League Baseball teams in their salary arbitration matters and has represented NCAA and NAIA collegiate clients regarding rules compliance, investigatory matters and in disciplinary hearings. In addition, he has handled Title IX investigations and compliance issues for NCAA and NAIA member institutions. Mr. Clifton has also worked extensively in the area of agent regulation and enforcement in professional and college sports and regularly provides counsel on issues relating to NCAA and NAIA amateurism issues and athlete eligibility questions. He has also served as an expert witness in matters involving sports agents’ work and responsibilities, as well as athlete compensation issues.

Prior to joining Jackson Lewis, he spent six years as Chief Operating Officer and Vice President of Team Sports for Gaylord Sports Management. He also served as President of the Athlete and Entertainment Division for famed sports attorney Bob Woolf’s firm, Woolf Associates, in Boston.

Mr. Clifton began his career as an Associate at Jackson Lewis where he focused his practice on traditional labor law. He continues to counsel clients in the areas of collective bargaining negotiations, representation cases, arbitrations and National Labor Relations Board matters.

Mr. Clifton frequently serves as an expert speaker to law schools, including Harvard University, Boston College, Hofstra University and Arizona State University, and bar associations regarding sports law issues, including agent regulation and salary arbitration. He is also often cited as an expert source in national news media for his commentary and opinion on legal issues in sports.