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College Sports, Division II

New NCAA Division II Interpretation: Criteria for Determining The Graduation Date for Prospective Student-Athletes Presenting Secondary School Credentials from Countries with Multiple Tiers of Secondary School Education

On June 30, 2011,  the NCAA Division II Legislation Committee issued an official interpretation concerning the  parameters to apply when identifying the expected date of high school graduation pursuant to the seasons-of-competition legislation for prospective student-athletes from countries with multiple tiers of secondary school education, where successful completion of each of those tiers may equate to high school graduation.

The parameters the Committee directed the membership to apply are as follows:

(1) Prospective Student-Athlete Completes Secondary School in the Timeframe Prescribed by the Country’s Ministry of Education.

A prospective student-athlete’s expected date of graduation will advance to the date at which the prospective student-athlete’s class completes each tier of the country’s secondary school system, provided the prospective student-athlete completes the tier within the timeframe prescribed by the country’s ministry of education.

(2) Prospective Student-Athlete Delays Completion of Secondary School Tier.

A prospective student-athlete’s expected date of graduation will advance to the date at which the prospective student-athlete’s class completes a tier of the country’s secondary school system, even if the prospective student-athlete delays his or her completion of the tier.

(3) Prospective Student-Athlete Attempts but Does Not Successfully Complete Secondary School Tier.

If a prospective student-athlete begins a tier of the country’s secondary school system, but never successfully completes the tier, the prospective student-athlete’s expected date of graduation will remain the date on which the prospective student-athlete’s class completed the previous tier.

The countries for which this policy applies are all multiple tiered leaving exam countries. This includes, but is not limited to, the United Kingdom; the University of Cambridge international exam program; New Zealand; Quebec, Canada; Scotland; the Caribbean exam countries and British patterned Africa.”

This interpretation references NCAA Division II Bylaw 14.2.4.2 (Participation in Organized Competition Before Initial Collegiate Enrollment):

“An individual who does not enroll in a collegiate institution as a full-time student in the regular academic term that begins immediately after a one-year time period (the next opportunity to enroll after the one calendar-year period has elapsed) following his or her high school graduation date shall use one season of intercollegiate competition for each consecutive 12-month period after the one-year time period and before initial full-time collegiate enrollment in which the individual participates in organized competition per Bylaw 14.2.4.2.1.2.”

In light of this interpretation, The Michael L. Buckner Law Firm recommends institutions’ athletics compliance offices: a) review institutional policies and procedures concerning prospective international student-athletes; b) review institutional policies and procedures concerning international student-athlete eligibility in terms of the 10-semester/15-quarter rule; c) include the interpretation in the next scheduled rules-education session for athletics staff; and d) maintain accurate records of student-athlete eligibility and athletics participation.

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About Justin P. Sievert, Esquire

Bar Admissions (North Carolina, Florida and Tennessee) Practice Area (College Sports Law)

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