August 27, 2016 by
http://www.ncaa.org/static/champion/why-is-that-a-...
What’s the rule?
A school may apply for a waiver on behalf of a college athlete when extenuating or extraordinary circumstances are present.
NCAA national office staff has authority to grant waivers using established standards and guidelines, and when schools or conferences disagree with a staff decision, they can appeal the decision to a member committee.
The average time to decide a legislative relief waiver is 21 business days, but the time required varies depending on the details and complexity of each case. Urgent waivers are processed within five days.
How did that become a rule?
The waiver process was created in 1993 after member schools expressed a desire for more flexibility in how rules are applied.
Why does the NCAA care?
Sometimes, waivers just make sense. In fall 2014, Mount St. Joseph University received a waiver to move up its women’s basketball season opener so freshman Lauren Hill, who had terminal brain cancer, could compete in a college game. Just this year, the University of Kentucky received a waiver that allowed high school swimmer Madison Winstead to compete in a scrimmage before enrolling at the school so her mother, who had cancer, could see her take part in a collegiate event.
But not all waiver cases are easy. Applications may be denied if they would give a school a recruiting or competitive advantage, or if the circumstances that led to the request were within the control of the school, student or coach. Often privacy laws prohibit the NCAA from making public all facts of a case, such as instances involving mental health or medical records.
Will it always be a rule?
As long as member schools continue to believe that not all rules can apply in every circumstance, some situations will continue to call for a waiver.