On March 14, 2012, the academic and membership affairs staff issued an interpretation concerning eligibility for practice and regular-season competition following a student-athlete’s last term of eligibility. Specifically, the staff confirmed that “ a student-athlete who completes his or her degree requirements may participate in practice and regular-season competition that precedes a postseason event that begins within 60 days after the end of the term [including an academic year interim term (e.g., mini-term, J-term)] in which the student completes the requirements for the degree (or graduate eligibility), provided the student has not exhausted his or her five years of eligibility.”
This interpretation referenced NCAA Division I Bylaws 14.1.1 (post-season and regular-season competition), 18.104.22.168.3 (exception — final semester / quarter), 22.214.171.124.1.3 (final semester / quarter), 126.96.36.199 (postseason event following last term of eligibility), 14.2.1 (five-year rule); official interpretations (06/30/92, Item No. 2 ), (04/23/87, Item No. 3) and (10/23/86, Item No. n) which have been archived and staff interpretations (11/10/93, Item No. b) and (12/30/87, Item No. p), which have been archived].
In light of this interpretation, the Michael L. Buckner Law Firm recommends institutions’ athletics compliance: a) include the interpretation in the next scheduled rules-education session for the athletics staff, coaches and staff members with eligibility-related responsibilities; and b) review student-athlete eligibility policies and procedures.