Skip to main content

NCAA establishes Graduate Assistant guidelines, 7-year clock and more

The NCAA is setting boundaries on how long an individual has to serve as a graduate assistant, and also allowing third- and even fourth-year G.A.s in some instances.

The NCAA has outlined all parameters for graduate assistant coaches for sports within its oversight, including football, and also extended by one year the calendar for all those positions impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic across the past 18 months.

Most notably, the organization established the timeframe for a potential graduate assistant's seven-year clock and also moved to allow a third year in a graduate-assistant role within a college football program if an individual has amassed enough classroom hours.

Per the NCAA, a graduate assistant “May serve a third year if graduate-assistant coach completes 24-semester or 36-quarter hours during initial two-year period of appointment. Two-year 'clock' begins with appointment as graduate assistant coach.”

Also outlined in clear terms were the organization's clear-cut guidelines on the “seven-year-window” that an individual may serve in a graduate assistant position rather than an analyst or any other type of off-the-field role.

The NCAA stated, “The seven-year window begins after receiving first baccalaureate; or immediately after exhaustion of football eligibility.”

For example, a football student-athlete who graduates in December 2021 but perhaps does not play his final contest until a January 1 bowl game – or perhaps later if he is on a College Football Playoffs participant – does not see his “seven-year clock” begin its countdown until the day after that final contest.

So a person who's clock starts to tick on Jan. 2, 2022, has until Jan. 2, 2029, to serve a full term as a graduate assistant coach.

Two other potentially key components of the NCAA's guidelines for football graduate assistants: when appointed to a G.A. post, if that position is going to extend beyond the seven-year “clock,” then the individual is eligible to complete the term beyond the seven-year window.

Also, G.A.s who were in those roles during the 2020-21 year can apply for a fourth-year of graduate-assistant placement. The NCAA passed a blanket waiver for the fourth year in January 2021.

Additionally, the NCAA did rule that any volunteer coaches whose sports were impacted by the coronavirus pandemic – either via an truncated season, such as spring sports in 2020, or perhaps because no season was played in fall 2020 or spring 2021 – could receive a one-year extension to the individual's calendar for those types of positions.