The goal of the Department of Athletics is to provide the education and support that our student-athletes, coaches, administrators, and supporters need to make the right decisions and comply with the rules.
As the NJCAA continues to navigate the COVID-19 situation across the country, it is imperative that all member institutions are up to speed on the changes that the Board of Regents has implemented for the 2020-2021 academic year. These changes are widespread and cover everything from eligibility processes to the number of contests allotted for a sport.
This communication is to highlight many of the larger scale eligibility and compliance changes that are facing the association. Please share this communication with your staff and coaches to help ensure that everyone in the association is on the same page as we move into the 2020-2021 academic year.
1. Academic Exceptions for fall 2020 and spring 2021- The NJCAA Board of Regents has approved COVID-19 Academic Exceptions for the entire 2020-2021 academic year. These exceptions apply to any student-athlete who was enrolled as a full-time student at any college or university in the spring 2020 academic term. Note that the second season requirement of Article V, Section 2.D.3 for spring 2021 is 24 credits with a 2.0 GPA. Item #529 Proposal
2. NJCAA Sports Procedures for 2020-21 – As the NJCAA has moved a large majority of its sports to the spring term, the associated sports procedures have been adjusted significantly as well. Understand these adjustments are only for the current 2020-21 academic year only. 2020-21 NJCAA Sports Procedures Chart
3. 60-Consecutive Calendar Day Window – For the majority of NJCAA sports, the association has adopted a 60-consecutive calendar day fall practice window to be defined by each member institution. This 60-consecutive day window exists within the defined fall practice season. Refer to the 2020-21 NJCAA Sports Procedures Chart for clarification. The defined 60-calendar day window is considered “In-Season”. Outside of that 60-consecutive calendar day window but still within the defined fall practice season, that period is considered “Off-Season”. Member colleges are to report their intended 60-consecutive calendar day windows to their respective region directors. In some instances, the regional offices have chosen to define those windows for the region membership. Check with your region director if you are unsure of your region’s plan moving forward with the fall practice season window.
4. Defined Seasons for Traditional Two-Term Sports - One of the big changes for the 20-21 sports season is the changes made to traditional two-term sports. Traditional two-term sports such as basketball or swimming and diving will now be one-term sports for 2020-21. Since all sports now have a defined spring season, athletic contact is only permitted within that defined season. As an example, basketball teams are accustomed to practicing over the winter break and in some cases competing during this timeframe. For this year, it is not permissible to have athletic contact until January 4 when the spring sports season opens. Refer to the 2020-21 NJCAA Sports Procedures Chart for the defined sports season for all sports.
5. Full-Time Enrollment Exceptions – The association has adopted two pieces of legislation that address student-athlete participation while being enrolled in less than 12 credit hours. The first piece of legislation is specific to COVID-19 and addresses student-athletes who were enrolled in the spring 2020 academic term and graduated in either spring 2020, summer 2020, or fall 2020 academic term. Specifics can be found in Proposal #528- Post-Graduate Allowance.
The second bylaw change is a permanent change and not specific to the COVID-19 pandemic. Student-athletes in their last academic term prior to graduation may participate while being enrolled in a minimum of six credit hours. Specifics on this approved bylaw change can be found in proposal #521. Item #521- Full-Time Enrollment Exemption
6. Non-Counter LOI – Article VI, Section 2.A.1 – If a second-season student-athlete was enrolled at an NJCAA member college for the Spring 2020 season and was signed to a baseball, beach volleyball, DI tennis men's or women’s, DIII tennis men's, golf, lacrosse, softball, or outdoor track and field NJCAA LOI prior to March 16, 2020, for the spring 2020 academic term, the student may receive a scholarship at the same institution for the 2020-2021 academic year and not be a counter. The student-athlete must be signed to an LOI.
7. Eligibility Process for the Fall 2020 – Eligibility for all sports contested in the fall term (cross country and half marathon), the hardcopy eligibility process will be used just as it was used in the spring of 2020. The additional direction will be provided for the submission of eligibility for the spring 2021 season. Visit your college profile in NJCAA Connect to access the Hardcopy Eligibility Form
8. Fall “Collegiate” Leagues – A growing trend that is a direct result of the void of competition opportunities for college-aged athletes this fall is the rise in the number of fall leagues that are targeting college-aged athletes. These “collegiate” leagues are especially prominent in the sports of soccer and baseball. These leagues are not affiliated with the NJCAA or its member institutions. There is no NJCAA bylaw which would restrict a current student-athlete from participating in these fall “collegiate” leagues. Please be advised that all recruiting and contact limitations remain in place for all NJCAA coaches. Please refer to Article VI, Section 3 for more information on NJCAA recruiting and contact allowances. For more information on the current 2020-2021 academic year, refer to the recently updated NJCAA Handbook and Casebook. 2020-21 NJCAA Handbook (September Version)
To see the NJCAA's most up-to-date Plan of Action, visit: 2020-21 NJCAA Updated Plan of Action