Well it is good to return from a few week hiatus here at the Hockey Advocate. It is a crazy time in the season, last minute scouting trips, college clients turning professional and young bantam and midget players preparing for the CHL draft. With the various CHL drafts on the horizon (WHL/OHL/Q) and with most players ending their seasons, everyone is starting the process of planning for next year. That means trying out for your new team, be it Junior or for a local rep team. Most players like to tryout for various Junior and Major Junior Teams in the Summer, but people do get confused about the facts and fiction surrounding their NCAA rights and eligibility. Today we will look at a recent Ask Jason Question and hopefully my response will provide you all, at whatever level you are currently playing some piece of mind!
“Jason, you said to ask any questions when they arise- so here is a general question. Is there any written information on things that would ruin a players’ eligibility to the NCAA route? I hear that we can accept 1 free invitation to a WHL prospects camp and maybe some travel expenses (48hours worth?) – what I’m after is some written ‘does and don’t’ for young players as they look at their options. – Thanks in advance for any guidance you can give us. “
Good to hear from you.
OK, quick rule of thumb with regards to the NCAA restrictions and retaining your eligibility:
1) Do NOT let the CHL/WHL pay for ANYTHING
2) Do NOT accept anything for FREE – Equipment, hats, tickets etc…
3) Do NOT play an official Game, exhibition OR Regular Season (Inter-squad is fine)
4) Do NOT sign any CONTRACT or Paperwork EVER
If you follow these ‘protocols’ you will not have to worry about your NCAA rights.
That said, a lot of these prohibitions are and can be GREY areas.
Believe me, if you break any of these rules in a major way, don’t be surprised if someone ensures that this disclosure finds its way in to the hands of someone unfavourable in the NCAA.
Can you go to a prospect camp for free, of course, as long as there isn’t a paper trail that they can send to someone.
Basically, in hockey terms, as long as you don’t play an official game where they keep official stats and rosters, you are OK!
Just don’t let them pay for the hotel or give out any form of per diem.
If the kids get food as a group, that’s more or less ok…
The point is to NOT put yourself in a vulnerable situation. Following those 4 rules keeps you 100% A-OK.
None of this is fair or reasonable, but the NCAA sets the rules and if you want to keep their road as an option, you have to play by their rules. While realizing that the WHL will do their best to get your rights secured in any way possible.
Here is the official NCAA guidelines:
What is amateurism?
In order to compete in the NCAA student-athletes must be classified as “amateurs” by the NCAA. To remain an “amateur” you cannot compete or sign a contract with a professional team, accept money or gifts for athletic ability, retain the services of an agent, or receive money for educational expenses based on athletic ability.In order to compete in the NCAA student-athletes must be classified as “amateurs” by the NCAA. To remain an “amateur” you cannot compete or sign a contract with a professional team, accept money or gifts for athletic ability, retain the services of an agent, or receive money for educational expenses based on athletic ability.
How many years of athletic eligibility do I have to compete in NCAA athletics?
You have 4 years of athletic eligibility in the NCAA.
B. Major Junior (WHL, OHL, QMJHL)
Can I play games in major junior and still be eligible to compete in the NCAA?
The NCAA considers major junior hockey to be professional hockey. Therefore student-athletes who compete in Major Junior jeopardize some or all of their NCAA athletic eligibility.
Student-athletes will lose all athletic eligibility to compete in NCAA Division I hockey if they:
compete in any major junior game after their expected date of high school graduation, or
sign a contract (“WHL Player Agreement”) with a major junior team
Student athletes will lose some athletic eligibility to compete in NCAA Division I hockey if they:
compete in any major junior game before their expected date of high school graduation, without signing a contract, or
attend a major junior training camp for more than 48 hours while having their expenses covered by the major junior team
The only opportunity that a player has to compete in major junior and still retain NCAA athletic eligibility is to play an exhibition game before graduation without signing a player agreement. Any other competition in major junior will lead to the loss of all NCAA athletic eligibility.
Can I tryout for teams in major junior and still be eligible to compete in the NCAA?
Before enrollment in a NCAA university an athlete can:
Tryout for any length of time, but not compete against outside opponents, with a major junior or other professional hockey team at your own expense
Receive one expense paid tryout with a major junior team as long as it does not exceed 48 hours
Note that during a tryout, an individual may not take part in any outside competition (games or scrimmages) as a representative of that major junior team.
Does the major junior rule apply to Division II and III?
Although the rule varies slightly between divisions, competition at the major junior level jeopardizes eligibility to compete in all NCAA divisions. For more specific information concerning how the rule is applied to Division I and II visit www.ncaa.org.
I hope this helps