Definition of a "Medical
Though often called a "medical redshirt" by sportswriters and sportscasters, the actual term is a "medical hardship waiver". The concept goes like this: Every student-athlete who meets the minimum academic standards coming out of high school gets four season of NCAA Division I Competition eligibility in each sport.
If a student-athlete is injured during a season and cannot return to competition, he or she may qualify for another opportunity to utilize that season of competitive eligibility.
To receive a medical hardship waiver - in any sport - the injury must limit the student-athleteís participation to no more than 20 percent of the teamís contests (rounded to the next whole number), with all participation occurring in the first half of the season.
Therefore, for a football player, the maximum number of games that he can play in and still receive a medical hardship waiver is three (20 percent of 11 equals 2.2, which is rounded up to 3), and none of his time on the field can occur after the fifth game (the sixth game of an eleven game season is considered in the second half of the season).
In the case of a 12 game regular season (ie. Virginia Tech's 2000 home schedule), none of the player's time on the field can occur after the sixth game. The seventh game of a 12 game season is considered in the second half of the season.