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Redshirts & Eligibility

Redshirts in college sports allow student-athletes to participate in practice and training with a college team, but without competing in official games or contests during a given season. This allows them to improve without loosing a year of eligibility.

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Key Takeaways

    • Redshirts allow you to train without competing in official games, so you dont lose eligibility
    • Medical Redshirts allow injured athletes to make up for a season-ending injury
    • Academic Reshirts allow students to focus on school if they become inellgible due to low grades

Understanding Redshirts

A redshirt in NCAA college sports refers to a student-athlete who participates in practice and training with a college sports team but does not compete in any official games or contests during a given season. The purpose of redshirting is to allow the student-athlete an extra year of practice and training without using up a year of eligibility, which is the number of years a student-athlete is allowed to participate in college sports before they must either graduate or leave the institution.

Redshirting, or taking a 5th-year: The word “redshirting” or “5th-year”, applies to athletes who decide to redshirt a season of competition. The athlete still attends school, receives scholarship, and goes to practice, but does not compete. In Division I, athletes have 5 years to complete 4 years of competition, thus giving them a year (if desired) to redshirt from competition.

Reasons to Redshirt

There are several reasons why a student-athlete might redshirt, including:

    • To gain an extra year of physical and mental development before competing at the college level.
    • To allow more time to adjust to the demands of college academics and athletics.
    • To give the student-athlete more time to heal from an injury or illness.
    • To take advantage of a change in coaching or team dynamics.
    • To align the student-athlete’s graduation date with the end of their athletic eligibility.

It’s important to note that redshirting is different from a medical redshirt, which is a special exception that allows a student-athlete who has suffered a serious injury to retain a year of eligibility.

Redshirting is a common practice: In many college sports redshirts can provide significant benefits for student-athletes. However, it’s important for student-athletes and their families to carefully consider the potential benefits and drawbacks of redshirting and to understand the NCAA’s rules and regulations around redshirting and athletic eligibility.

Be careful with your eligibility and scholarships: Both the athlete and coach will have to work with the compliance department to make sure the athlete will still be eligible each year when spacing out a degree to 5 years or beginning a masters program. Additionally, scholarship money and financial aid is not guaranteed when redshirting and returning for an additional 5th year, so making this decision must be discussed in advance.

Medical Redshirt

There is also what is termed as a “medical redshirt” which has more specific rules:

    • The athlete has an incapacitating, season-ending injury
    • The injury must have occurred prior to the second half of the season
    • The athlete must not have competed in over 30% of the competitions or 3 contests (whichever is greater).

In some rare circumstances athletes can receive a medical redshirt and gain an additional season of eligibility (6th year) when they have faced a season-ending injury and already used their redshirt.

Academic Redshirt

An academic redshirt in college sports refers to a student-athlete who is deemed academically ineligible to compete in college sports during their first year of enrollment. This can occur if the student-athlete does not meet the academic standards set by the college or the NCAA, such as minimum GPA requirements or specific courses required for eligibility.

The purpose of the academic redshirts: Provide student-athletes with the opportunity to focus on their studies and improve their academic standing, with the goal of becoming eligible to compete in future seasons. During the redshirt year, the student-athlete is usually able to participate in practices and team activities, but cannot compete in games or contests.

It’s important to note that the rules for academic redshirts can vary depending on the college and the governing body of college sports, such as the NCAA. Some colleges may have different academic standards for student-athletes, while the NCAA has its own set of academic eligibility requirements that must be met by all student-athletes who wish to compete in college sports.

The academic redshirt is a useful tool for student-athletes who need additional time to meet academic requirements, but it also requires careful planning and discipline to make the most of the opportunity and achieve eligibility in future seasons.

Athletic Requirements
Athletic Requirements

Athletic requirements for college athletes vary depending on the college, the sport, and the governing body of college sports, such as the NCAA or NAIA. However, here are some common requirements that most college athletes must meet.

NCAA Eligibility
NCAA Eligibility

College-bound student-athletes preparing to enrol in a DI or DII school need to register with the NCAA Eligibility Center to ensure they meet amateurism standards and are academically prepared for college.

Requirements for Internationals
Requirements for Internationals

There are additional requirements for international students, such as language proficiency tests, if you are from a non-english speaking country and more.