NCAA Division I Five-Year Clock Explained

Dear Eligibility Coach:

I graduate from high school in 2007 and attended a four-year school in Florida for one year to compete in men’s basketball. I then decided to transfer to a four-year school in Mississippi so that I could play with my brother. I was at that school for two years, but had to sit out the first year. After that time I had to drop out of school to work. I am now transferring to a Division I school that recruited me out of high school and was looking forward to playing my last two years there until the coach told me I have used up my playing clock. How can that be since I only played for two years? Don’t I have two years left on my five-year clock?

Dear Basketball Student-Athlete:

The five-year clock in NCAA Division I is misunderstood by a lot of people. The NCAA’s goal is for every student-athlete who attends a Division I university to have four years to compete in their sport. These student-athletes are allowed a five-year period of time to compete during four years. The most important thing to understand about the five-year clock in NCAA Division I is that is starts once the student-athlete enrolls full-time at

any collegiate educational institution [two-year or four-year institution]. Once the five-year clock starts, it does not stop.

Since you started college in 2007, your five year clock started in 2007 and included the 2007-2008, 2008-2009, 2009-2010, 2010-2011 and 2011-12 academic years. Even though it appears that you only competed for two years, you had five years to compete [your five-year clock] and that clock ended at the end of last academic year.

Usually it is extremely hard to get the five-year clock extended. There have been cases of student-athletes being granted a sixth year of eligibility, but usually those student-athletes missed two years of competition opportunities because they had documented severe injuries that prevented

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them from competing.

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