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Recruiting 101
Is a Post-Graduate Year a Good Idea for Me?
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There are many reasons why prospective college tennis players, in partnership with their parents, might consider taking an extra year before starting college. Players' reasons for considering a post-graduate (PG) or gap year are manifold: poor grades and/or testing earlier in the high school career are making them inadmissible at their top choices of schools; being young for their class is creating a feeling that an extra year of maturity may allow them to get more out of their college experience; a late growth spurt is affecting their tennis development; a late commitment to tennis after playing multiple sports is showing stronger potential than might be expected given their current rankings. A PG year or gap year can certainly provide extra time to improve academic standing, physical or emotional maturity, and/or level of play with the hope of providing more college, and college tennis, options. But once the decision to take the extra year is made, the question becomes, "What do I do?" There are several ways to focus one's time and efforts in post-graduate years, and each requires much consideration of the implications on the recruiting process, eligibility, and playing time in college. Knowing the rules and planning ahead is critical in making a sensible decision about PG years.

Several years ago, there was no rule preventing a player from taking a gap year, regardless of the reason for doing so. But, in April of 2010, the NCAA voted to reduce the grace period for a gap year from 1 year to 6 months for Division I schools. (NCAA Divisions 2 and 3 still allow for a full 1 year grace period between high school graduation and enrolling in a college without using a season of eligibility.) The rationale and spirit behind initiating the D-I legislation was to encourage continuity in the educational process and to level the playing field in college tennis based on age and experience.

The exact wording of the NCAA Bylaw for Division I that went into effect August 1, 2012, and is still in place, is as follows:

14.2.3.2.2 Tennis. "In tennis, a student-athlete who does not enroll in a collegiate institution as a fulltime student in a regular academic term within six months (or the first opportunity to enroll after six months have elapsed) after his or her high school graduation date or the graduation date of his or her class (as determined by the first year of high school enrollment or the international equivalent as specified in the NCAA Guide to International Academic Standards for Athletics Eligibility and based on the prescribed educational path in the student-athlete's country), whichever occurs earlier, shall be subject to the following: (Adopted: 4/29/10 effective 8/1/12; applicable to student-athletes who initially enroll full time in a collegiate institution on or after 8/1/12)

(a) The student-athlete shall be charged with a season of intercollegiate eligibility for each calendar year after the six-month period has elapsed (or the next opportunity to enroll) and prior to full-time collegiate enrollment during which the student-athlete has participated in organized competition per Bylaw 14.02.9.

(b) After the six-month period, if the student-athlete has engaged in organized competition per Bylaw 14.02.9, on matriculation at the certifying institution, the student-athlete must fulfill an academic year in residence for each calendar year after the six-month period has elapsed (or the next opportunity to enroll) and prior to full-time collegiate enrollment during which the student-athlete has participated in such competition before being eligible to represent the institution in intercollegiate competition."i

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Page updated on Monday, March 11, 2019
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