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Student-Athletes with Disabilities

As one of its core values, the NCAA believes in and is committed to an inclusive culture that fosters equitable participation for student-athletes and career opportunities for coaches and administrators from diverse backgrounds. In further recognizing and acting upon this value, the NCAA is increasing efforts to provide opportunities to student-athletes with education-impacting and physical disabilities.

Education Impacting Disabilities

For academic eligibility purposes, the NCAA defines a disability as a current impairment that has a substantial educational impact on a student’s academic performance and requires accommodation. Learn more.

Accommodations for Student-Athletes with Disabilities

The NCAA encourages participation by student-athletes with disabilities (physical or mental) in intercollegiate athletics and physical activities to the full extent of their interests and abilities. An NCAA member institution will have the right to seek, on behalf of any student-athlete with a disability participating on the member’s team, a reasonable modification or accommodation of a playing rule, provided that the modification or accommodation would not:

  • Compromise the safety of, or increase the risk of injury to, any other student-athlete;
  • Change an essential element that would fundamentally alter the nature of the game; or
  • Provide the student-athlete an unfair advantage over the other competitors.

Adapted Sports Model

The NCAA continues to support the opportunity for student-athletes with disabilities to participate in intercollegiate athletics. In January 2014, the board of directors of the Eastern College Athletic Conference approved the implementation of championship sport opportunities for student-athletes with disabilities. Adapted sport championships, including track and field and swimming and diving, are slated for the 2015-16 academic year. Learn more about the ECAC’s Inclusive Sport Initiative.