February 11, 2013

College Volleyball and Years of Eligibility

Dear Coach,

Can you please explain the so called “5 year clock rule” as it pertains to the different divisions and the NAIA?  Thanks.


The '5 year clock rule', only applies to NCAA Division I athletics per my understanding (I will say that the rules are constantly changing by the way).

In general, the 5 year clock rule says that you have 5 years to play 4 seasons of competition.  This allows for a redshirt year.  In NCAA DI, once you start your clock, it runs without stopping (exception for military or religious service) for 5 years and within that 5 years you have 4 seasons of competition.

A student-athelte starts their clock when they enroll full time in a college, participate in practice or competition with a team, or play in a competitive season with another sports/organization entity.  

A newer DI rule now automatically starts a player's clock 1 year after the first opportunity to enroll in a college after high school.  So, if a player graduates June of 2013, the player's clock would automatically start August 1014.  The NCAA gives an athlete a 1 year grace period, then starts the clock.

For NCAA DII, there is the 10 semester rules.  This says that a DII player has 10 semesters to play 8 semesters of competition but the semesters do not need to be consecutive.  This provides a bit more flexibility for what life can throw our way.  I am not sure if DII has an auto start to their clock after 1 year post high school graduation.

For DIII, I am not aware of their eligibility parameters.

NAIA is known for having a much more open eligibility stance when it comes to age.  They also allow four years of competition, but I am not sure about when they start their clock and if it runs in consecutive years.  I do know it is quite common for older players (mid to late 20's) to be competing on NAIA teams.

Because of how 'thin' that answer was, I would ask that any of my VolleyReaders who are DII, DIII and NAIA coaches, please share your knowledge in the Comments section of this post, so all readers can see!

Coach Matt

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