There was a host of activity coming out of the Division I Council late yesterday. Among the big news was bowl eligibility for the current football season, decisions on additional seasons of eligibility for current winter sports athletes, and progress on new rules around both immediate eligibility for transfers and on name, image, and likeness compensation for athletes. So here is a quick run down on the news for you all.
First, a congratulations and round of applause are in order for the following Big Ten coaches who have yet to coach a bowl-eligible Big Ten team as head coach:
Scott Frost, Nebraska Cornhuskers
Mike Locksley, Maryland Terrapins
Greg Schiano, Rutgers Scarlet Knights
And yes, our very own Mel Tucker is on this list as well
All of these Big Ten head coaches are now officially coaching a bowl-eligible Big Ten team for the first team in their tenure as a head coach at their respective Big Ten school. Congratulations on your participation trophy, but just so we are clear you are not necessarily going to a bowl game. You are merely automatically bowl eligible now before playing a single game.
The NCAA DI Council officially announced that the normal bowl eligibility requirements of a minimum .500 record (or a 5-7 record with requisite academic progress) has been waived for this season. Additionally, the required number of games to be played to meet the minimum required for bowl eligibility has also be waived. Teams will still be required to meet the Academic Progress Rate requirements, but theoretically could still receive a bowl invite without a single win during their regular season.
This was done in part due to the varying schedule lengths of different conferences and overall reduced scheduled by teams. The ACC initially scheduled an 11-game regular season, the SEC with 10, the Big Ten now nine, and the PAC-12 is scheduling only seven games.
“Providing a more flexible framework for the postseason in this unprecedented time will provide some certainty moving forward. These are important postseason opportunities for our student-athletes, and this will help everyone to prepare.” - Shane Lyons, athletic director at West Virginia and chair of the football oversight committee
Currently there are 39 bowl games still scheduled for the post-season window of December 1, 2020 to January 11, 2021. That means 78 out of 127 FBS teams will be able to attend bowl games regardless of record. How that shakes out of a team with a losing record potentially jumping a team with a winning record for a “superior bowl game,” for example, we shall see. However, given the reduced or complete lack of fan attendance being a factor for many of these games it will be curious if name brand carries as much appeal in such a scenario.
Winter Athlete Eligibility Extended
Similar to spring sports last season (what little there was of a season, if any) and for fall sports this year, all winter sport athletes for this academic year have received an automatic extra year of eligibility. Whereas athletes were previously eligible to complete four seasons of competition in five years, they now have six years to complete five.
No surprise that the NCAA left out the minor detail on what, if any, changes will be allowed for the scholarship limits on rosters as a result of extra eligibility. The scholarship cap was not increased for spring or fall sports teams, however. So if previous models for eligibility are followed, players who hold over on the roster would directly impact future recruits ability to join teams on scholarship.
One-Time Immediate Eligibility For Transfers
The DI Council also moved one step closer to adopting a rule that would allow all Division I athletes in all sports to transfer to a new school and compete immediately without having to sit out for a season. Presently, athletes in football, men’s basketball, women’s basketball, baseball, and men’s hockey are required to sit out for a season when they transfer to a new school.
The main exception to this rule is with athletes who have graduated with remaining eligibility who are eligible immediately as a “graduate transfer.” Otherwise the ridiculously unclear method of applying for waivers for hardship or other reasons is the norm. This has resulted in no logical uniformity besides the notion that if you are Ohio State football applying for it then it is accepted, but if it is Michigan State basketball applying for it then it will be denied.
Coach Izzo had certain comments in his press conference yesterday on the waiver and the extra year of eligibility. He was for the extra year, but against the waiver. His stance on the waiver, long held, is from the perspective that in most cases the transferring student would do better to stick it out longer at the first school and “rise to the challenge” so to speak.
Name, Image, and Likeness Compensation Rule
The NCAA Division I Council also moved forward with announcing the “concepts” around rules regarding athletes ability to earn compensation for using their name, image, and likeness (NIL). The concepts they approved today will be voted on at convention in January and include:
- Promote camps and clinics, private lessons, their own products and services and commercial services.
- Receive payment for autographs and personal appearances.
- To crowdfund for nonprofits or charitable organizations, catastrophic events and family hardships, as well as for educational expenses not covered by cost of attendance.
- Use professional advice and marketing assistance regarding name, image and likeness activities, as well as professional representation in contract negotiations related to name, image and likeness activities, with some restrictions.
Additionally, student-athlete will not be allowed to use his or her school’s marks in any NIL deal. Nor can a student-athlete participate in any business dealings that involve “a commercial product or service that conflicts with NCAA legislation.” This includes sports betting or promotion/affiliation of banned substances. The responsibility of conveying these rules would fall on the universities “at the time the student is admitted or signs a financial aid agreement.”
Under the Council’s initial concepts proposed yesterday, schools would not be allowed to be involved in any of a student-athlete’s NIL deals “unless the activity is part of a student’s coursework or academic program.” Further, schools would not be allowed to “arrange or secure endorsement opportunities” for their athletes.
The DI Council recommends that NIL deals should be disclosed through a third-party administrator for added transparency. The administrator would also assist with “overseeing the disclosure process, monitoring and reporting name, image, and likeness activities, and educating key stakeholders, including student-athletes, prospective student-athletes, boosters, and professional service providers.”
The timeline for implementation is currently January, but any congressional action at the national level would supersede that should it somehow actually occur in the middle of a heated election cycle and lame duck congress. That is as likely to happen as Joe Milton’s likelihood to actually win the Heisman this year.