The pathway project was commissioned by the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Committee Collegiate Advisory Council, which is comprised of nine athletics directors and one commissioner from the autonomy conferences, to identify and remove impediments faced by elite student-athletes who are personally developing, training and competing both collegiately and internationally.
The council believes Olympic and Paralympic sports on campus thrive when national team student-athletes can pursue both their academic and athletic dreams.
More than 300 national team athletes, coaches and National Governing Body administrators identified key impediments, and the USOPC worked with compliance leaders to develop NCAA legislative remedies. The legislation was drafted collectively by the USOPC Legislative Task Force (named in the “resources” section) and the NCAA and supported by the USOPC Collegiate Advisory Council, in order to help national team student-athletes who are often trying to self-manage conflicts related to scheduling, training and finances. These issues are further complicated by policies and practices that do not address international sport structures, quadrennial calendars, Olympic and Paralympic qualification requirements, and elevated financial demands.
Unanimously approved by the NCAA Division I Council and Board of Directors on January 23, 2020, the legislation was designed to clearly identify NCAA elite student-athletes and extend flexibility allowing these elite athletes to reach their potential, which helps the student-athlete, collegiate programs and ultimately the sport. This legislation does not compromise the integrity of existing academic policies and precludes missing class for additional training. The legislation is nimble to allow student-athletes to customize their training, provide easier access to elite developmental resources, and encourage collaboration across the USOPC, schools and national teams.
Individuals designated by the USOPC and the sport-affiliated NGB (or the international equivalent, if a non-U.S citizen) as an elite athlete may utilize the following legislation:
- Exception for Elite Athlete Training [NCAA Bylaw 17.02.1.1]
- Exception for Developmental Training Expenses for Elite Athlete [NCAA Bylaw 220.127.116.11.8]
- Paralympic inclusion [NCAA Proposals: 2019-101, 2019-106, ER 2019-11]
Compliance officers wishing to help an international student-athlete determine if they may be eligible for these reforms can access the international evaluation form in the resources section below.
NCAA Elite Downloadable Resources
Student-Athlete Support ToolDownload, opens in a new tab
USOPC liaisons are expected to maintain a line of communication with the USOPC/NGB to help national team student-athletes navigate both collegiate and national team responsibilities. One critical task is convening annually with your national team student-athlete(s) to review goals, discuss their support plan and review schedules. This worksheet can be utilized to help facilitate the conversation and memorialize the discussion
Resource Management WorksheetDownload, opens in a new tab
USOPC liaisons are expected to work with your NCAA elite student-athletes to outline elite training needs/resources and allocation strategies. This worksheet is designed to establish a plan for NCAA elite student-athletes to utilize USOPC/NGB funding while maintaining NCAA eligibility for expenses classified as elite developmental training expenses.
International Student-Athlete Evaluation ToolDownload, opens in a new tab
The USOPC has access to world-level event results and can help provide feedback on sport- or country-specific nuances to complete the evaluation tool. Submission of a completed evaluation tool to the USOPC is NOT required – schools and conferences are the ultimate authority in verifying NCAA elite status for international student-athletes.
Campus Advocacy OverviewDownload, opens in a new tab
To better support the elite student-athletes participating on Team USA, the USOPC has invited each impacted institution and conference to designate a liaison to participate in a collegiate advocacy program, which is intended to strengthen communication and collaboration between collegiate and national team leaders. These leaders liaise with the USOPC and NGB to help national team student-athletes navigate their collegiate and national team responsibilities.
Student-Athlete Info SheetDownload, opens in a new tab
Created with frequent student-athlete-centric NCAA elite questions in mind, the student-athlete information sheet is available to schools, conferences and/or NGBs to share with designated NCAA elite student-athletes, if they so choose.
NCAA FAQDownload, opens in a new tab
The most up-to-date version of the NCAA FAQ for the legislation that was unanimously approved on January 23, 2020. This document will be updated as new iterations are released by the NCAA.