Frequently Asked Questions

Below you’ll find a number of common questions about collegiate gymnastics, and you can find even more information about the sport in our main Rules & Resources Hub. Can’t find the answer to a question you have? Send us an email at mail@collegegymnews.com, and we’ll be sure to answer it, as well as add it to the Hub.

This rule is largely governed by each conference, and varies. Technically, the NCAA states that a transfer must fulfill a residency requirement at her new school by attending one full year (two semesters or three quarters) of courses before competing in her sport; however, there are myriad exceptions that apply to almost everyone. The most pertinent exception that any transfer who attended her previous four-year university for at least one full calendar year is eligible to participate in her sport immediately, pursuant to the rules of the institution and conference (14.5.5.1.1 and 14.5.5.2). So, as long as a student-athlete doesn’t transfer during their first season, they are eligible per the NCAA. 

The only variation to this rule in gymnastics is in the SEC. When transferring from one SEC institution to another, student athletes must sit out of competition for one season. They are permitted to attend team activities.

A student-athlete may be granted a sixth year of eligibility if they are unable to participate in their sport for one or more years due to circumstances out of the student-athlete’s control. A waiver must be submitted and approved by the NCAA for a student-athlete to be granted a sixth year of eligibility.

Some examples of common circumstances that are typically approved by the NCAA include: major injuries and illnesses, natural disasters, bad academic advice given by academic authorities at institutions and extreme financial hardships experienced by a gymnast or their immediate family.

Yes, should a gymnast specifically medically retire, they still receive aid as long as they continue adhering to certain rules and regulations to do so. Note that this scholarship will no longer count toward the 12 allotted to DI teams.

Student-athletes can join a college team “early” if they have already completed all eligibility requirements by the time they plan to enroll at the university. It is not uncommon for gymnasts to graduate a semester or even a year early. Likely, the coach reaches out to the gymnast to indicate there is a spot available or the gymnast may reach out showing her interest in arriving sooner than previously planned.

The strategy behind this on the team’s side could be the desire to bring in a top recruit early in a year when the incoming freshmen class is light or doesn’t fully replace the graduating seniors. However, it could pose issues in the future if a trend emerges where the team continues to “cherry pick” recruits from future classes to fill holes on the current roster.

A team is allowed three paid coaches with some teams also choosing to have a volunteer assistant coach, along with a handful of student coaches at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Differences in the number of coaches a team has depends on the team’s budget and money available at that respective school.

Technically, no, but it’s complicated! There are many specific rules surrounding Olympic sports and elite athletes. The expressly prohibited compensation to an individual (either a recruit or current student athlete) is prize money. That means money specifically awarded based on that individual’s performance at a certain competition. For example, the purse at a World Cup event for medaling. Jade Carey has had to turn down a fair sum of money in order to maintain her amateur status. 

However, there are a variety of funds and non-monetary benefits that are permitted. A recruit or student-athlete may receive educational expense awards and national team compensation from an Olympic committee or national governing body, both in the US and internationally. So, Morgan Hurd can accept her National Team stipend from USA Gymnastics without damaging her eligibility, and Shallon Olsen is not in danger of breaking her amateur status by accepting the monetary and non-monetary (think gear, hotels, travel, etc.) compensation that will come with going to Tokyo should she make the team. Plus, the NCAA isn’t going to revoke status over someone accepting a medal, despite it technically having monetary value.

The NCAA Bylaws don’t include any specific regulations around social media, beyond permitting coaches to “like” posts made by recruits. The reason someone like Olivia Dunne can’t be compensated via Tik Tok, or Sophia Butler needs to be cautious with YouTube revenue, lies in the Amateurism clause (12.1.2). 

The clause is mostly focused on athletes who participate in professional sports or hire sports agents, but it includes the language (emphasis added): “An individual loses amateur status and thus shall not be eligible for intercollegiate competition in a particular sport if the individual…uses his or her athletics skill (directly or indirectly) for pay in any form in that sport.” So, since Dunne and Butler both post about gymnastics, they cannot be paid since they would be indirectly using their gymnastic ability for compensation.

Technically, no. Teams can have as many gymnasts on their roster as they’d like or as many as their budget allows. Former Bridgeport head coach even said he had a dream of having a roster so large he could field two teams for competitions.

However, Division I teams are only allowed 12 scholarships, and when it comes to postseason competition, only 15 athletes are allowed in the corral/on the competition floor.

The federal law specifically states that “No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.” But what does this mean for universities and sports teams?

To determine if athletic departments are Title IX compliant, a three-prong test is used: 1) proportionality, does the breakdown of male and female student-athletes reflect the student body at large; 2) expansion, does the school have a history of fewer opportunities for females but shows it is working to expand athletic opportunities for them; or 3) accommodating interests, the school already meets the interests of the students.

For more information on the three prong test, click here. For more information on Title IX and how it relates to the NCAA, click here.

The NCAA requires 50 schools to sponsor a men’s sport and 40 schools to sponsor a woman’s sport to establish and maintain an NCAA championship in that sport (NCAA bylaws 18.2.4.1 and 18.2.4.2); there are exceptions, though. Any sport that sponsored championships in the 1993-1994 season only needs to maintain 40 member institutions, regardless of gender (18.2.3). Men’s and women’s lacrosse are both exempt (18.2.10.2). And, most importantly for us, Olympic sports are also exempt and free to set their own legislation regarding the continuation of championships and NCAA status (18.2.10.1).

In short, yes. Institutions are required to provide medical and mental health care to students-athletes for athletics-related injuries incurred while participating in their sport (16.4). Care for an injury extends at least two years after graduation/separation from the institution or until the individual qualifies for the NCAA Catastrophic Injury Insurance Program. So, Sam Cerio’s recovery from her injury at her senior championships should have been covered by the NCAA, even though she graduated before fully recovering.