American Adminstrator Offers Insight On Hardship Waiver

by Categorized: American Athletic Conference, Morgan Tuck, UConn women's basketball Date:

At the end of the year, UConn will submit an application to The American seeking a medical hardship waiver for sophomore Morgan Tuck designed to regain her sophomore season.

Tuck played in only eight of UConn’s first 20 games because of right knee issues and will have complicated surgery to replace missing cartilage in her knee.

Problem is, Tuck likely straddled the fence when it comes to eligibility for the waiver, both in terms of the number of games she’s already played and the fact three were in January.

I reached out to The American Conference seeking clarification and here is how Ellen Ferris, an associate commissioner, responded:

Bylaw 14.2.4 (see below) sets forth the criteria for approving the waiver.  In addition to the waiver explaining the situation, the institution must submit contemporaneous medical documentation showing that the student-athlete’s injury or illness was season-ending (i.e., the injury or illness was such that it prevented the student-athlete from returning to practice/competition for the remainder of the season).  If the student-athlete’s situation meets the criteria set forth in Bylaw 14.2.4 and sufficient contemporaneous documentation is presented, then the waiver will be granted.

If the criteria is not met (e.g., the student-athlete competed in the second half of the season) and/or the medical documentation is not sufficient, then the conference must deny the waiver.  Conferences do not have the discretion to approve waivers that do not meet the legislated criteria.  However, per Bylaw 14.2.4.2.1, the conference may submit the denied waiver to the NCAA’s Committee on Student-Athlete Reinstatement, and that Committee will determine if the facts warrant granting the waiver.  If the Student-Athlete Reinstatement Committee denies the waiver, there is no additional appeal process.

Finally, hardship waivers are only applicable to student-athletes who participated in competition during the season and then suffered an incapacitating injury or illness.  Student-athletes who suffered an incapacitating injury or illness prior to the start of the season (e.g., fall camp, preseason practice) are not eligible for a hardship waiver as they did not use a season of competition.  If the student-athlete ended up missing two participation opportunities (e.g., two missed years due to incapacitating injuries), then the institution could submit a request to the NCAA on behalf of the student-athlete to extend his or her five-year clock.  The NCAA would then look at the contemporaneous medical documentation to verify that the missed participation opportunity was due to an incapacitating injury or illness that kept the student-athlete from participating during the entire season.

14.2.4 Hardship Waiver.

A student-athlete may be granted an additional year of competition by the conference or the Committee on Student-Athlete Reinstatement for reasons of “hardship.” Hardship is defined as an incapacity resulting from an injury or illness that has occurred under all of the following conditions: (Revised: 1/10/92 effective 8/1/92, 1/14/97, 8/1/97, 4/26/01 effective 8/1/01, 11/1/01, 4/3/02, 8/8/02, 3/10/04, 5/11/05, 9/18/07, 11/1/07 effective 8/1/08, 4/24/08)

(a) The incapacitating injury or illness occurs in one of the four seasons of intercollegiate competition at any two-year or four-year collegiate institutions or occurs after the first day of classes in the student-athlete’s senior year in high school;

(b) The injury or illness occurs prior to the first competition of the second half of the playing season that concludes with the NCAA championship in that sport  (see Bylaw 14.2.4.3.4) and results in incapacity to compete for the remainder of that playing season;

(c) In team sports, the injury or illness occurs when the student-athlete has not participated in more than three contests or dates of competition (whichever is applicable to that sport) or 30 percent (whichever number is greater) of the institution’s scheduled or completed contests or dates of competition in his or her sport. Only scheduled or completed competition against outside participants during the playing season that concludes with the NCAA championship, or, if so designated, during the official NCAA championship playing season in that sport (e.g., spring baseball, fall soccer), shall be countable under this limitation in calculating both the number of contests or dates of competition in which the student-athlete has participated and the number of scheduled or completed contests or dates of competition during that season in the sport.  Dates of competition that are exempted (e.g., alumni contests, foreign team in the United States) from the maximum permissible number of contests or dates of competition shall count toward the number of contests or dates in which the student-athlete has participated and the number of scheduled or completed contests or dates of competition in the season, except for scrimmages and exhibition contests that are specifically identified as such in the sport’s Bylaw 17 playing and practice season regulations.  Scrimmages and exhibition contests that are not exempted from the maximum permissible number of contests or dates of competition may be excluded from the calculation only if they are identified as such in the sport’s Bylaw 17 playing and practice season regulations; and

(d) In individual sports, the injury or illness occurs when the student-athlete has not participated in more than three dates of competition or 30 percent (whichever number is greater) of the maximum permissible number of dates of competition as set forth in Bylaw 17 plus one date for a conference championship (e.g., gymnastics:  13+1=14, wrestling:  16+1=17), regardless of whether the team participates in the conference championship, provided the institution is a member of a conference and the conference holds a championship event in the applicable sport.  Dates of competition that are exempted per Bylaw 17 (e.g., alumni contests, foreign team in the United States) from the maximum permissible number of dates of competition do not count toward the number of dates in which the student-athlete has participated.

14.2.4.2 Administration of Hardship Waiver.

The hardship waiver shall be administered by the member conferences of the Association or, in the case of an independent member institution, by the Committee on Student-Athlete Reinstatement.  (Revised: 10/28/04, 4/20/09)

14.2.4.2.1 Review of Denied Waiver.

A conference that denies an institution’s hardship waiver may submit the waiver to the Committee on Student-Athlete Reinstatement.  The committee shall have the authority to review and determine whether to approve the waiver based on circumstances that may warrant relief from the application of the legislated waiver criteria. (Adopted:  4/20/09)

14.2.4.3.3 Medical Documentation.

Contemporaneous or other appropriate medical documentation, from a physician (a medical doctor) who administered care at the time of the injury or illness, that establishes the student-athlete’s inability to compete as a result of that injury or illness shall be submitted with any hardship-waiver request. (Adopted: 4/20/99, Revised:  2/22/01)

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