Athletics News

Shooting For College: NCAA Eligibility Requirements - Updated

Jan. 14, 2015

The NCAA regulates all athletic recruiting to ensure that: prospective student-athletes are prepared to succeed academically in college and graduate with a degree within a reasonable amount of time, they are amateurs, and there is no undue or inappropriate influence in the recruiting process. To that end, the NCAA establishes and periodically updates minimum academic eligibility requirements. New initial eligibility requirements have been adopted for those entering college in the Fall of 2016 and beyond.

New NCAA Eligibility Requirements

Starting in August 2016, aspiring intercollegiate student-athletes must satisfy the new NCAA initial eligibility requirements in order to become eligible to compete and be considered for athletic scholarships. Division I schools require athletes to graduate from high school, complete 16 core courses in 8 semesters of high school (10 of those courses must be completed and “locked in” before the seventh semester; 7 of those 10 courses must be in English, math, and science), earn at least a 2.0 GPA in the core courses, and earn at least the minimum SAT or ACT sum score that matches the core course GPA based on the NCAA test score sliding scale. Core courses include 4 years of English, 3 years of math (Algebra I or higher), 2 years of natural or physical science (at least 1 year with lab if available at the student’s high school), 2 years of social science, 1 additional year of English, math, or natural/physical science, and 4 years of additional courses (any area previously listed, foreign language, or comparative religion/philosophy) (Note: the University of California’s “a-g” requirements align with the NCAA Core course requirement). Starting in August 2016, Division II schools will require entering freshmen to achieve the same standards required for DI schools. DIII schools do not have similar requirements, and no NCAA certification is required to compete for DIII schools. Bear in mind that these are minimum academic eligibility requirements established by the NCAA to ensure that athletes are prepared for and equipped to earn a college degree.

Starting in August 2016, new freshmen in Division I schools will be required to present at least a 2.3 GPA to compete during their freshman year. If a student’s final high school GPA is between 2.0 and 2.3, he or she will be required to serve an academic “redshirt” year during which they can enroll in college, receive athletic aid, and practice during the first term, but successfully complete at least 9 semester or 8 quarter units to be eligible to practice the second term. Upon successful completion of the redshirt year (GPA of 2.0 or higher for the first year of college), the student athlete will be allowed to compete starting in his or her sophomore year of college. At Division II schools, the minimum GPA for entering freshmen to receive athletics aid, practice, and compete will remain 2.0.

Register with NCAA Eligibility Center

Once deciding to pursue intercollegiate athletics, a student-athlete should register with the NCAA Eligibility Center at Traditionally this is done during the second semester of the junior year, but with the new timeline for contact with coaches effective in August 2014, it can be done toward the end of the sophomore year — but definitely by the start of the senior year.

Final NCAA Certification

Before the end of their senior year, student-athletes will be contacted by the NCAA Eligibility Center and asked to update their questionnaires to reconfirm their eligibility. This is required in order to receive final certification as an amateur athlete. They are also required to send final high school transcripts and proof of graduation so the NCAA Eligibility Center can certify to colleges that student-athletes are eligible to engage in intercollegiate competition as collegiate athletes. Finally, before or shortly after reporting to college, student-athletes will be asked by their collegiate athletic departments to complete several eligibility, compliance, and other forms, and attend on-campus NCAA compliance meetings.

Questions? Write to Angela Kraus at Angela Kraus is an experienced and certified college counselor providing comprehensive college counseling services to help students prepare for and ensure eligibility for graduation from high school and admission to colleges. A special focus of her practice is advising high school athletes as they pursue the athletic recruiting process, with emphasis on water polo players.




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