The NCAA requires Divisions I and II student-athletes to make appropriate annual progress toward earning their degrees. This progress is measured in several slightly different ways in the two divisions, including credits earned toward a degree and minimum grade-point average requirements.When Division I or II student-athletes fall short of these academic requirements, an institution can pursue a “progress-toward-degree” waiver to restore eligibility for competition. To qualify for such a waiver, institutions must document the mitigating circumstances that caused the deficiency. A common circumstance is a student-athlete facing a serious medical issue or other personal hardship.
Most of these waiver requests are assigned to a staff member at the NCAA national office.
Staff members can approve, deny or conditionally approve a waiver request. The conditional approval means a student-athlete must meet certain requirements to remain eligible. An institution must demonstrate how the condition was met; if the student-athlete fails to meet the condition, the decision reverts to denial.
A Division III student-athlete must be in good academic standing and meet the satisfactory academic progress requirements at his or her institution. In addition, NCAA rules require Division III student-athletes to enroll in no less than 12 credit-hours per term to compete in athletics. A Division III institution that wishes to pursue a waiver of the 12-credit enrollment requirement for a student-athlete must document the mitigating circumstances for why the request should be granted.
Institutions may appeal staff decisions to the Division I Progress-Toward-Degree Waiver Committee, the Division II Academic Requirements Committee’s Subcommittee on Progress-Toward-Degree Waivers or the Division III Management Council's Academic Issues Subcommittee. Appeals are heard via teleconference. Members of both committees are administrators and faculty from NCAA schools.
Those membership groups have the same outcome options as the staff: approve, deny or conditionally approve. In Divisions I and II, their decisions are final. In Division III institutions may appeal to the management council which makes the final decision.