NCAA advises KY high school athletes to ponder ‘do-over’

A recent “do-over” bill passed by the Kentucky General Assembly could have consequences for high school athletics who decide to retake the 2020-21 academic year because of the ongoing pandemic.

The NCAA has advised in an “important message for prospective NCAA student-athletes from Kentucky”  that current high school freshmen and sophomores could risk their collegiate athletic career at the Division I level for completing 10 core-course requirements before entering their seventh semester of high school. Ten of 16 required core courses – seven in English, math, or science — are a requirement for completion before starting the seventh semester of high school.

“The impact of repeating a year is highly variable depending on a student’s academic class and record; however, there could be a detrimental effect on a student’s ability to meet Division I core-course requirements in some circumstances,” the NCAA said. “Specifically, students in the freshman or sophomore classes during 2020-21 should ensure that they have a plan to meet the Division I requirement of completing 10 core-course units before starting the seventh semester.”

The NCAA also added that “Generally, NCAA legislation permits students to continue participating in their sport one year after their expected high school graduation date (based on four years/eight semesters after the initial start of year 9) without impacting their NCAA eligibility.”

“The only shorter grace period is Division I men’s and women’s tennis, which permits participation for six months after the expected graduation date,” the NCAA said. “As a result, if students repeat a year of high school, they should be mindful of the potential impact on their seasons of eligibility. Participating in their sport beyond the grace period could result in losing a season(s) of eligibility.”

The NCAA Division I eligibility requirements are as follows:

• 16 core-course units, to be completed within four years/eight semesters from the initial start of year 9.

• Core-course 10/7 progression requirement: 10 of the 16 required core-course units (including seven units in English, math or science) must be completed before starting the seventh semester.

• On-time graduates may also complete one additional core unit within a year after graduation and before initial full-time enrollment.

• For students initially enrolling full-time in college during the 2021-22 or 2022-23 academic years, additional flexibility has been provided due to COVID-19.

“In short, we strongly advise students and families considering this path to work with their high school counselor, the athletics compliance office at the NCAA school they would like to attend, and the NCAA customer service center to ensure they have the best information available as they make decisions regarding their academic future,” the NCAA said. “The following information provides key points student-athletes and their families need to consider when evaluating a supplemental year.”

Academic eligibility in NCAA Division II or III should not be impacted, the NCAA said in the memo.

Keith Taylor is the sports editor for Kentucky Today. Reach him at keith.taylor@kentuckytoday.com or Twitter @keithtaylor21.