Eligibility and Illness, Injury or Other Incapacity

As described below, a student-athlete's illness, injury or other incapacity can, in certain circumstances, affect his or her eligibility under NCAA regulations. However, an injury, illness, or incapacity does not affect their athletic scholarship, team membership, or academic enrollment; and, student-athletes are not retaliated against if they are injured, ill, or otherwise incapacitated. SHU follows the NCAA's regulations relating to intercollegiate competition eligibility, and follows a policy of non-discrimination. Students are encouraged to consult Sacred Heart's NCAA Compliance Officer and those regulations for more information on eligibility.

Under NCAA regulations, a student-athlete is not permitted to engage in more than four seasons of intercollegiate competition in any one sport. A student-athlete must complete his/her seasons of participation within five calendar years from the beginning of the term in which the student-athlete first registered for a minimum full-time program of studies in a collegiate institution. NCAA regulations provide that female student-athletes who become pregnant during their collegiate career may be granted six calendar years in which to engage in four seasons of intercollegiate competition. Any competition, regardless of time, during a season in an intercollegiate sport counts as a season of competition in that sport.

It is the right of every student to maintain the confidentiality of their protected medical information, which includes information regarding student-athlete injuries and illnesses. Student-athletes are given the option of signing a Student Athlete Authorization/Consent for Disclosure, which is required for SHU to release protected health information to the public. If this form is not signed, SHU will not disclose protected medical information. Student-athletes may revoke a Student Athlete Authorization/Consent for Disclosure that they previously signed at any time by giving notice to SHU's Director of Athletics.

Below are some facts that student-athletes should know about being injured or incapacitated:

"Red Shirting"

Q. The term "red shirt" is not used in the NCAA compliance manual. Where did this term originate and why is it used?

A. The term "red shirt" actually originated on the football field. In the past, at the beginning of each season, coaches would decide which student-athletes would be permitted to compete during the season, using a year of eligibility, and which ones would only be permitted to practice. The ones who did not compete during the season preserved a year of eligibility. These student-athletes wore red jerseys at practice so the coaches could easily identify which student-athletes were not going to compete that year.

Student-athletes who have become incapacitated during a season of athletic competition in which they have competed have the option of pursuing an NCAA Hardship Waiver in order to preserve that season of eligibility. When a Hardship Waiver is granted, the student-athlete is given an additional year of competition eligibility. Receiving a Hardship Waiver is commonly known as a "medical red-shirt year", or "red shirting". However, a "red-shirt" season can also refer to a season where the student-athlete does not compete in any intercollegiate competition because of incapacity occurring outside of a season of competition, or does not compete for reasons unrelated to incapacity.

Out of Season Incapacity

If an injury, illness or other cause (including a female athlete's pregnancy), causes you to become physically incapacitated outside a season of competition, you should let your coach know as soon as possible so he or she can plan accordingly. When a student-athlete becomes incapacitated prior to a season of competition, pursuant to NCAA rules, that student athlete will not be charged with a season of competition provided that they do not engage in any competition that season. Incapacitated players are encouraged to remain members of their teams during the season that they are incapacitated. Incapacitated players are entitled to retain their scholarship, remain members of their team, and remain at school, and will not be retaliated against because of their incapacity.

In Season Incapacity:
Hardship Waivers

Q. What is the definition of a hardship waiver? What are the conditions that must occur in order to request a hardship waiver?

A. "Hardship" is defined by NCAA regulations as "an incapacity resulting from an injury or illness," provided that certain criteria set forth by NCAA regulations are met. Such incapacity may include a female athlete's pregnancy. A student-athlete will not be charged with the loss of that season of competition eligibility by the conference or the Academics / Eligibility / Compliance Cabinet if all the following criteria are met:
1. The incapacitating injury or illness occurs in one of the four seasons of intercollegiate competition at any two-year or four-year collegiate institution or occurs subsequent to the first day of classes in the student-athlete's senior year of high school;
2. The injury or illness occurs prior to the completion of the first half of the playing season that concludes with the NCAA championship in that sport and results in incapacity to compete for the remainder of that playing season; and
3. The injury/illness occurs when the student-athlete has not participated in more than two contests or dates of competition (whichever is applicable to that sport), or 30% (whichever number is greater) of the institution's scheduled contests or dates of competition in his or her sport. Only scheduled competition (excluding exhibition contests and scrimmages) 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), is countable in calculating the number of contests or dates of competition in which the student-athlete has participated and the number of scheduled contests or dates of competition during that season in the sport.


Q. Who do I talk to about seeking an NCAA Hardship Waiver?

A. All hardship waivers are processed through the SHU Athletics Compliance Office. You should meet personally with the Athletics Compliance Officer to discuss the process. As long as a student-athlete meets the criteria outlined above, and makes the SHU Athletics Compliance Office aware of that fact, a waiver request will be submitted to the NCAA Academics/Eligibility/Compliance Cabinet.

Q. Can student-athletes who have received a Hardship Waiver remain in school and on their team and retain their scholarship?

A. The fact that a student-athlete has obtained a Hardship Waiver does not affect their athletic scholarship, academic enrollment at Sacred Heart or their membership on a team.

Q. Will I be retaliated against if I receive a Hardship Waiver?

A. Sacred Heart does not retaliate against student-athletes for that student-athlete's applying for or receiving a Hardship Waiver. Student-athletes are not retaliated against regarding their athletic scholarship, team participation or academic enrollment.