Guidelines Regarding a Student-Athlete's Seasons of Competition
The accurate recording of student-athlete participation is critical for several reasons. Unless a waiver is applied for and granted from the NCAA, all student-athletes are limited to four seasons of competitive eligibility in each sport. Once these four seasons are used, a student-athlete is no longer eligible for intercollegiate competition in that sport. Additionally, accurate documentation regarding student-athlete participation is critical in obtaining a medical hardship waiver, should the need arise.

A student-athlete utilizes a season of competitive eligibility if, at any time during an academic year, he/she represents the institution in competition against individuals not on the institution's team. This is true regardless of how that competition is classified or when it occurs. Therefore, a student-athlete who participates in any of the following has utilized one of his/her four seasons of competitive eligibility in that sport:
  • A joint practice session; or
  • A scrimmage (other than intra-squad); or
  • An alumni game; or
  • An exhibition.

Also, a student-athlete who does any of the following has utilized one of his/her four seasons of competitive eligibility in that sport:
  • Competes in the uniform of the institution; or
  • Utilizes apparel or equipment with institutional identification; or
  • Receives expenses associated with competition of any type.

Recording of Student-Athlete Participation
At the beginning of each sport's playing & practice season, the Compliance Office will distribute to the Head Coach a sport-specific copy of the Virginia Tech Participation Record . This form is customized for each sport, listing (where possible) all opponents/meets/matches across the top, with room for the coach to list all student-athletes names down the side. In this way, an individualized event-by-event record of competitive participation is recorded and maintained for each student-athlete. At the conclusion of the season, the form is to be signed and returned to the Assistant AD for Compliance.

A second participation form, the Virginia Tech Participation Report , is distributed to head coaches in May of each year. It serves to summarize each student-athlete's level of competitive participation during the most recent academic year, and must be completed and returned to the Compliance Office no later than July 1. On this form, each student-athlete is placed into one of four categories:
  • Competed;
  • Practiced only;
  • Practiced only, while serving a residence requirement; or,
  • Competed, but qualifies for a medical hardship waiver.

This allows for accurate tracking of the number of seasons of competitive eligibility utilized by each student-athlete. The information on this form is matched to the Participation Record , and used to update the column indicating "Number of Seasons Utilized" on the NCAA Squad List.
Guidelines for Medical Hardship Waiver Requests
For a student-athlete to receive a Medical Hardship Waiver per Bylaw 14.2.4, the following four conditions must be met:
  • The student-athlete may not have participated in more than two contests or dates of competition or 20 percent of the team's completed contests/dates of competition.
  • The injury or illness must occur prior to the completion of the first half of the season.
  • The injury or illness does not have to occur during practice/competition, but it must be incapacitating.
  • Appropriate medical documentation must exist and be provided.

All percentages are calculated according to contests or dates of competition, depending on how your sport's competitive opportunities are counted. Only contests or dates of competition occurring during the championship (traditional) season are included in the calculations. Conference championships/tournaments are counted as one contest or date of competition, regardless of the actual contest/dates used.

If the percentage calculation for the 20-percent rule results in a decimal -- any decimal -- the whole number preceding it is always rounded up. For example, if the softball team competes in 56 games, 20 percent of 56 is 11.2. Due to the "rounding-up," a softball team member who competed in 12 games does qualify for a medical hardship waiver.

To meet the first-half-of-the-season requirement, all competition must cease prior to the start of the contest or date of competition that begins the second half of the season. For example, a soccer player competing in the 10th game of a 19-game season does not qualify for a medical hardship waiver. Also, a student-athlete who is injured in the first half of the season, then attempts to play in the second half and aggravates the original injury, does not qualify for a medical hardship waiver.