Varsity Athletic Participation (NOVAP)

Varsity athletes officially represent Duke University in National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) competitions away from campus. Accordingly, when these athletes are unable to attend classes during official Duke competitions, their absences are excused. If athletes choose to compete in non-Duke or non-NCAA athletic competitions, i.e. National Team events, Olympic training events, competitions as an unattached individual etc., the absence is not officially excused. In these cases, the decision to excuse an absence rests with the instructor (see the fifth bullet below).

The following provisions and procedures apply.

  • Within the first week of each fall or spring semester, student athletes are expected to notify their instructors of their status as varsity athletes. They should provide a letter, signed by the Dean of Academic Affairs in Trinity College and by the Senior Associate Director of Athletics, to each instructor to confirm their status.
  • They should attach to the letter a schedule of that semester's varsity athletic competitions. This is an appropriate time for the student athlete and instructor to have a conversation about the number of anticipated absences, what will be missed in class and how best to make up any missed work or exams. If the faculty member decides the anticipated number of absences do not allow the student to adequately engage in and absorb the course material, the student should be encouraged to drop the course and enroll in another course prior to the end of the drop/add period.
  • During a semester, student athletes should submit a NOVAP (Notification of Varsity Athletic Participation) Form (below) to each instructor whenever they are scheduled to miss a class because of athletic participation. The form should submitted at least one week prior to the date of their participation in a varsity athletic competition. Submission of this form should not replace direct communication, initiated by the student-athlete, about the upcoming absence. 
  • Because varsity athletic competitions are scheduled in advance, it follows that instructors have the right to insist, where feasible, that students complete course work prior to the anticipated absence from class in accordance with the course attendance policy.
  • Missed work associated with any other absence is not covered by this policy. However, student athletes are encouraged to discuss any absence (planned or unexpected) with their instructors to determine whether accommodation is possible. Instructors can excuse non-NCAA absences if they wish. However, they also are not obligated to accommodate such absences and should make their attendance policy clear in their syllabus along with the implications of unexcused absences.
  • The student athlete's electronic signature on the NOVAP form confirms that he/she is acting in accordance with the Duke Community Standard. Use of the NOVAP form is monitored and instructors are advised to bring to the attention of the student's academic dean any instances in which the instructor believes a student may be abusing the procedure.  In cases of suspected abuse of the NOVAP, the student's academic dean may refer the matter to the Office of Student Conduct for investigation.
  • The NOVAP form cannot be used during the final exam period because of the time limitations inherent in completing end-of-semester assignments or making up a missed final exam. Student athletes should take final examinations at the scheduled times and to complete end-of-semester work by the deadlines set by the instructor, except in the case of extraordinary circumstances. In such cases, the student athlete should contact his/her academic dean as soon as possible, preferably before the scheduled assignment or final exam. In cases of NCAA championship tournament play that occurs during final exams, the student's academic dean can notify instructors and excuse absences.
  • The NOVAP form is only for NCAA varsity athletes. Members of the band, cheerleading squad, team managers and trainers, club team members, and others who are not varsity athletes but who wish to attend athletic competitions should discuss their plans with their instructors. Instructors can approve accommodations or excuse absences if they wish.
  • The NOVAP form is only for fall or spring semesters and cannot be used for summer sessions.
  • Any questions regarding these provisions should be directed to the student athlete's academic dean or to Brad Berndt, Senior Associate Director of Athletes.  


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