VW Blog

College Athlete Advocacy Lawyers

By Justin Sievert

At Vela Wood, our NCAA athlete lawyers take pride in passionately representing the interests of prospective and current college athletes nationwide. Whether you participate at an NCAA, NAIA, or JUCO institution, our attorneys work collaboratively with your college or university and your athletics compliance office to make sure you remain eligible or get back on the field of play as quickly as possible. If your interests are not aligned with your institution, we ensure you have the advocacy needed to protect your needs.

Our experience as college athlete attorneys includes initial eligibility and progress-toward-degree waivers, two- and four-year transfer cases, legislative relief waivers, navigating amateurism issues, eligibility extensions, drug-testing appeals, international student-athlete eligibility issues, and student-athlete reinstatement. Collaborating with our team when encountering these types of issues will ensure you receive a fair and complete opportunity to present your case.

  • Scholarship Cancellation or Reductions: NCAA Bylaw 15 permits NCAA member institutions to reduce or cancel athletics aid in limited circumstances. When this occurs, athletes are afforded specific procedural rights and the opportunity for a hearing. If your institution has reduced or cancelled your athletics aid, our college scholarship attorneys can help review the circumstances of your case and represent you during the appeals process.
  • Transfer Cases: When making a decision to transfer, the legislation of your institution’s national governing body and its conference are often in play. We are experienced working with athletes looking to transfer as both 2-4 qualifier and non-qualifiers, 4-4 transfers, 4-2-4 transfers, and graduate transfers. This experience allows or NCAA transfer lawyers to help you navigate available options, the transfer portal, run-off legislation, and potential academic issues relating to your decision to transfer.
  • Legislative Relief Waivers: The legislative relief process was created to provide flexibility in the NCAA’s application of legislation in extraordinary circumstances. Our NCAA waiver attorneys can assist your athletics compliance office to ensure the appropriate amount of time and resources are dedicated to expedite this process and put you back on the field of play as quickly as possible.
  • Initial Eligibility Waivers: NCAA Bylaw 14.3 establishes a minimum level of academic achievement for athletes to receive athletics aid, practice, and compete during his or her first year of full-time enrollment. However, various circumstances exist where the NCAA will grant an initial eligibility waiver when academic deficiencies are present. We can review your postsecondary transcripts and test scores along with relevant mitigating factors and help your institution file an initial eligibility waiver on your behalf or request reconsideration or file an appeal of an initial eligibility decision.
  • Progress-Towards-Degree Waivers: NCAA Bylaw 14.4 provides specific requirements for enrolled athletes to guide them towards graduation. These standards include grade-point-average minimums, term and annual credit hour requirements, and percentage-of-degree requirements. While athletes who do not meet these requirements will generally be declared ineligible for competition, a progress-toward-degree waiver may be filed to reconsider the possibility of the athlete regaining his or her eligibility. If you have been declared academically ineligible and potential mitigating factors are present, we can assist your institution in managing your academic waiver case.
  • Student-Athlete Reinstatement: When an NCAA member institution discovers an NCAA rules violation has occurred, it must declare the athlete ineligible. The institution then may request the athlete’s eligibility be restored through the student-athlete reinstatement process. We are able to assist institutions with the reinstatement submission. If a decision has already been made by the reinstatement staff, we can make a reconsideration request if new information is available, or the appeal required if the decision was excessive. We also have experience with other issues handled under the student-athlete reinstatement process, including eligibility extensions, hardship waivers, and pre-enrollment amateurism certification issues.
  • Drug Test Appeals: The penalties for a positive NCAA-administered drug test can result in loss of one full year of eligibility even for a first-time offender. If you have tested positive for an NCAA or institutional drug test, we can handle your appeal and ensure procedural safeguards were in place and presumed responsibility is appropriate. Learn more about the NCAA’s drug-testing appeals process.
  • Improper Conduct and Athlete Well-Being: In addition to assisting athletes navigate NCAA compliance issues, we assist athletes in navigating potential misconduct issues including athlete allegations relating to hazing, improper coach conduct, Title IX, and other ethical conduct issues to ensure athlete wellness while on campus.
  • Name, Image and Likeness: Vela Wood is at the forefront of understanding the current legal and regulatory landscape of college athlete name, image, and likeness rights. Our firm’s combination of Title IX, NCAA compliance, sports venture, and corporate experience makes us uniquely positioned to help you navigate this new era in college athletics.

If you are a college athlete and need an NCAA compliance lawyer, please contact Justin Sievert at jsievert@velawoodlaw.com.

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Posted in NCAA Compliance
Justin Sievert
Justin Sievert is Senior Counsel at Vela Wood and chairs the firm’s sports and compliance practice group. His practice focuses on contract drafting and negotiation, marketing and promotions compliance, NCAA compliance matters, and Title IX. You can see Justin's attorney profile here.