NCAA Understanding Initial Eligibility Standards (January 11th @ 3:30pm): Join the NCAA Eligibility Center for a webinar for college-bound student athletes and their families. Students will learn about the latest initial-eligibility news, requirements they must meet to be ready when they get to campus, and the best resource for them as they pursue their dreams of studying and competing at an NCAA Division I or II school.
What You Need to Know about the National Letter of Intent: Whether you are getting ready to sign a NLI this November or just curious about what is to come, check out this presentation from Carondelet Athletics.
What is the NCAA?
The National Collegiate Athletic Association is an organization dedicated to providing a pathway to opportunity for college athletes. More than 1,100 colleges and universities are members of the
NCAA. Those schools work together with the NCAA national office and athletics conferences across the country to support nearly half a million college athletes that make up 19,500 teams competing in NCAA sports. The NCAA’s diverse members include schools ranging in size from those with hundreds of students to those with tens of thousands. The NCAA is organized into three divisions, each of which is unique.
What is the NAIA?
The NAIA is the intercollegiate athletic association that provides members the tools and opportunities to support their institutional strategic priorities. While other associations may prioritize athletics management and branding, the NAIA has a broader focus – developing student-athletes to their full potential and helping our members meet their overarching goals related to enrollment, student success and financial health.
The NAIA advantage:
- High-caliber athletics at a reasonable cost
- Institution-level analytics
- Athletics-driven enrollment
- Autonomy and simple, sensible rules
- Superior student-athlete experience
What do I need to know about eligibility standards?
Initial-eligibility standards help ensure you are prepared to succeed in college. The NCAA has specific academic standards that all prospective student-athletes must meet in order to receive “academic certification.” See the academic requirements for each division below.
Check out the NCAA Eligibility Center Covid 19 Response FAQ for recent changes to the. regular DI and DII eligibility standards listed below.
NCAA DI Eligibility Standards: Division I schools require college-bound student-athletes to meet academic standards for NCAA approved core courses, core-course GPA and test scores. More information regarding the impact of COVID-19 and test scores can be found at Covid FAQ (http://fs.ncaa.org/Docs/eligibility_center/COVID19_Fall2021_Public.pdf), To be eligible to practice, compete and receive an athletics scholarship in your first full-time year at a Division I school, you must graduate from high school and meet all of the following requirements:
- Complete a total of 16 core courses in the following areas:
2. Complete 10 of your 16 core courses, including seven in English, math or natural/physical science, before the start of your seventh semester. Once you begin your seventh semester, any course that is needed to meet the 10/7 requirement cannot be replaced or repeated.
3. Complete the 16 NCAA-approved core courses in eight academic semesters or four consecutive academic years from the start of ninth grade. If you graduate from high school early, you still must meet core-course requirements.
4. Earn an SAT combined score or ACT sum score that matches your core-course GPA (minimum 2.300) on the Division I full-qualifier sliding scale. Review the sliding scale to ensure your score meets Division I requirements.
NCAA DII Eligibility Standards: Division II schools require college-bound student-athletes to meet academic standards for NCAA-approved core courses, core-course GPA and test scores. More information regarding the impact of COVID-19 and test scores can be found at COVID FAQ.
To be eligible to practice, compete and receive an athletics scholarship in your first full-time year at a Division II school, you must graduate from high school and meet all of the following requirements:
- Complete 16 core courses in the following areas:
2. Earn an SAT combined score or ACT sum score that matches your core-course GPA (minimum 2.200) on the Division II full-qualifier sliding scale.
3. Submit proof of graduation to the Eligibility Center.
For student-athletes enrolling at an NCAA member school Aug. 1, 2021, or later, if you do not meet Division II qualifier standards, you will be deemed a partial qualifier. All Division II partial qualifiers may receive an athletics scholarship and practice during their first year of full-time enrollment at a Division II school, but may NOT compete.
NCAA DIII Eligibility Standards: Division III institutions provide an integrated environment focusing on academic success while offering a competitive athletics environment. Division III rules minimize potential conflicts between athletics and academics and focus on regional in-season and conference play to maximize academic, co-curricular and extracurricular opportunities. DIII eligibility is determined on campus.
The NCAA eligibility process also protects the fairness and integrity of college sports by ensuring student-athletes are amateurs. When you register for a Certification account with the NCAA Eligibility Center, you will be asked a series of questions about your sports participation to determine your amateur status. In some instances, the NCAA Eligibility Center staff may need to gather additional information to evaluate your amateur status. To be eligible, all prospective student-athletes also need their amateurism certified.
Issues Reviewed as Part of the Amateurism Certification Process:
- Delaying your full-time collegiate enrollment to participate in organized competition.
- Playing with professionals.
- Signing a contract with a professional team.
- Participating in tryouts or practices with a professional team.
- Receiving payment or preferential treatment/benefits for playing sports.
- Receiving prize money.
- Receiving benefits from an agent or prospective agent.
- Involvement with a recruiting service.
NAIA Initial Eligibility Standards: If a student meets two of the criteria, then the student is eligible upon high school graduation:
- Cumulative GPA of 2.0 on a 4.0 scale
- Class rank in top 50% of graduating class
- If no class rank is on the transcript, nine college credits can be used in place of this requirement. (Effective May 1, 2020.)
- ACT of 18 or SAT of 970 Critical Reading and Math
NAIA rules help ensure that NAIA student-athletes compete against students with similar levels of training and competitive experience. The NAIA Eligibility Center reviews the experiences of athletes who have competed outside the traditional college setting to maintain a level playing field throughout NAIA competition.
What do I need to know about the Eligibility Center?
You need to be certified by the NCAA Eligibility Center to compete at an NCAA Division I or II school. Create a Certification Account and the staff at the NCAA Eligibility Center will guide you through the process. You need to create a Certification Account to make official visits to Divisions I and II schools or to sign a National Letter of Intent.
Create a free Profile Page if you plan to compete at a Division III school or are not yet sure where you want to compete. You’ll get an NCAA ID, and we will send you important reminders as you complete high school.
NAIA does not utilize the NCAA Eligibility Center. Registering with the NAIA Eligibility Center is required for all first-time NAIA student-athletes. It only takes a few minutes to register. The fee to register is $90 for students coming directly from high school, $135 for transfer students, and $150 for international students. For U.S. students with demonstrated need, a fee waiver system is in place.
What do I need to know about athletic recruiting?
During the NCAA recruiting process it is highly encouraged that a prospective student-athlete visit college campuses. Below are some important terms each prospective student-athlete should know about NCAA visits campus.
Unofficial visit: Any visit by you and your parents to a college campus paid for by you or your parents. The only expense you may receive from the college is three complimentary admissions to a Division I home athletics contest or five complimentary admissions to a Division II home athletics contest. You may make as many unofficial visits as you like after the first permissible date in each sport. The only time you cannot talk with a coach during an unofficial visit is during a dead period. In Division I, it is not permissible to make an official visit during a recruiting shutdown period or a dead period. In Division III, you may receive one on-campus meal as well as admission to a home athletics event for you and those accompanying you.
Official visit: During an official visit, the college can pay for transportation to and from the college for you (and up to two family members in Division I Basketball and FBS Football), lodging and meals (Division I allows for up to three meals per day) for you and up to four family members, as well as reasonable entertainment expenses, including five tickets to a Division I or Division II home sports event. Before a Division I or II college may invite you on an official visit, you will have to provide the college with a copy of your high school transcript and register for a Certification account with the NCAA Eligibility Center. In Division I, it is not permissible to make an official visit during a recruiting shutdown period or a dead period.
During the recruiting process, a prospective student-athlete or family members of a prospective student-athlete may directly or indirectly encounter a college coach. Per NCAA bylaws, there are permissible dates and times when college coaches are permitted to send correspondence, make phone calls and have off-campus contact with prospective student-athletes (and their family members). Below are some important terms regarding off-campus contacts.
Contact: A contact happens any time a college coach says more than “Hello” during a face-to-face meeting with you or your parents off the college’s campus.
Evaluation: An evaluation happens when a college coach observes you practicing or competing.
Recruiting calendar: NCAA member schools limit recruiting to certain periods during the year. Recruiting calendars promote the well-being of college-bound student-athletes and ensure fairness among schools by defining certain periods during the year in which recruiting may or may not occur in a particular sport. Recruiting calendars may consist of the following: contact periods, evaluation periods, quiet periods, dead periods, and recruiting shutdowns.
Contact period: During a contact period, a college coach may have face-to-face contact with you or your parents, watch you compete, visit your high school and call or write to you or your parents.
Evaluation period: During an evaluation period, a college coach may watch you compete, visit your high school and call or write to you or your parents. However, a college coach may not have face-to-face contact with you or your parents off the college’s campus during an evaluation period.
Quiet period: During this time, a college coach may not have any in-person contact with you or your parents off the college’s campus. A coach may not watch you play or visit your high school during this period. You and your parents may visit a college campus during this time. A coach may call or write to you or your parents during this time.
Dead period: A college coach may not have any face-to-face contact with you or your parents on or off the college campus at any time during a dead period. The coach may call or write you or your parents during this time.
Recruiting shutdown: A recruiting shutdown is a period of time when no forms of recruiting (e.g., contacts, evaluations, official or Division I unofficial visits, correspondence, or making or receiving telephone calls) are permissible.
What do I need to know about athletic scholarships?
NAIA athletic scholarships: In the NAIA, each sport has an upper limit for the amount of institutional aid allowed per school. The school may choose to divide the scholarships among student-athletes*, so long as the total does not exceed the limit for the sport. Limits for each sport are as follows:
Competitive Cheer: 12
Competitive Dance: 10
Cross Country: 5
Indoor & Outdoor Track & Field: 12
Swimming and Diving: 8
The total amount of scholarship money a team has available is equal to (the average cost of attendance at the school) multiplied by (the above limit for scholarships). The team/athletic department may then divide that total amount of money amongst varsity team members however it chooses.
Division I Athletic Scholarships: A student athlete may receive athletic aid, as well as non-athletic aid, up to the cost-of-attendance, as dictated by the institution. A student-athlete must meet all eligibility requirements qualifying them to receive athletic aid. Division I schools may provide student-athletes with multiyear scholarships. Additionally, Division I schools may pay for student-athletes to finish their bachelor’s or master’s degrees after they finish playing NCAA sports.
If a school plans to reduce or not renew a student-athlete’s aid, the school must notify the student-athlete in writing by July 1 and provide an opportunity to appeal. In most cases, coaches decide who receives a scholarship, the scholarship amount and whether it will be renewed.
For the purpose of awarding athletic scholarships, NCAA DI sports are categorized as either “head count” or “equivalency” for athletic scholarship purposes. If a sport is a “head count” sport then that sport is limited to providing aid to a maximum number of counters. Each counter can receive up to a full scholarship.
An “equivalency sport” on the other hand, provides a limit on the value (equivalency) of financial aid awards that an institution may provide in any academic year to any number of individuals on the roster (“counters”). Individuals may receive a full scholarship which covers tuition and fees, room, board and course-related books, however, most student-athletes who receive athletics scholarships on equivalency sports receive an amount covering only a portion of these costs.
The following are NCAA DI women’s head count sports:
Women’s Basketball: limit of 15
Women’s Gymnastics: limit of 12
Women’s Volleyball: limit of 12
Women’s Tennis: limit of 8
The following are NCAA DI women’s equivalency sports:
Acrobatics and Tumbling: limit of 14
Beach Volleyball: 6 equivalences across 14 counters (if institution also sponsors indoor volleyball)
Bowling: limit of 5
Cross Country/Track: limit of 18
Equestrian: limit of 15
Fencing: limit of 5
Field Hockey: limit of 12
Golf: limit of 6
Ice Hockey: limit of 18 equivalencies across 30 counters
Lacrosse: limit of 12
Rowing: limit of 20
Rugby: limit of 12
Skiing: limit of 7
Soccer: limit of 14
Softball: limit of 12
Swimming/Diving: limit of 14
Triathalon: limit of 6.5
Water Polo: limit of 8
Wrestling: limit of 10
DII Athletic Scholarships: An institution shall not award financial aid to a student-athlete that exceeds the cost of attendance that normally is incurred by students enrolled in a comparable program at that institution. A student-athlete must meet all eligibility requirements qualifying them to receive athletic aid. All sports in DII are “equivalency sports.” The NCAA provides a limit on the value (equivalency) of financial aid awards that an institution may provide in any academic year to any number of individuals on the roster. Individuals may receive a full scholarship which covers tuition and fees, room, board and course-related books, however, most student-athletes who receive athletics scholarships on equivalency sports receive an amount covering only a portion of these costs.
The following are NCAA DII women’s equivalency sports:
Acrobatics and Tumbling: limit of 9
Basketball: limit of 10
Beach Volleyball: limit of 5
Bowling: limit of 5
Cross Country/ Track: limit of 12.6
Equestrian: limit of 15
Fencing: limit of 4.5
Field Hockey: limit of 6.3
Golf: limit of 5.4
Gymnastics: limit of 6
Ice Hockey: limit of 18
Lacrosse: limit of 9.9
Rowing: limit of 20
Rugby: limit of 12
Skiing: limit of 6.3
Soccer: limit of 9.9
Softball: limit of 7.2
Swimming and Diving: limit of 8.1
Tennis: limit of 6
Triathlon: limit of 5
Volleyball: limit of 8
Water Polo: limit of 8
Wrestling: limit of 10
DIII Athletic Scholarships: While Division III schools do not offer athletics scholarships, 80% of Division III student-athletes receive some form of merit or need-based financial aid.
A walk on is someone who is not typically recruited by a school to participate in sports and does not receive a scholarship from the school, but who becomes a member of one of the school’s athletics teams.
What is the National Letter of Intent?
The NCAA manages the daily operations of the NLI program while the Collegiate Commissioners Association (CCA) provides governance oversight of the program. Started in 1964 with seven conferences and eight independent institutions, the program now includes 652 Division I and Division II participating institutions.
The NLI is a voluntary program with regard to both institutions and student-athletes. No prospective student-athlete or parent is required to sign the NLI and no institution is required to join the program.
The NLI is a binding agreement between a prospective student-athlete and an NLI member institution.
- A prospective student-athlete agrees to attend the institution full-time for one academic year (two semesters or three quarters).
- The institution agrees to provide athletics financial aid for one academic year (two semesters or three quarters).
The penalty for not fulfilling the NLI agreement: A student-athlete has to serve one year in residence (full-time, two semesters or three quarters) at the next NLI member institution and lose one season of competition in all sports.
An important provision of the NLI program is a recruiting prohibition applied after a prospective student-athlete signs the NLI. This prohibition requires member institutions to cease recruitment of a prospective student-athlete once an NLI is signed with another institution.
What is the difference between the NLI and a “verbal commitment”?
A verbal commitment happens when you verbally agree to play sports for a college before you sign or are eligible to sign a National Letter of Intent. The commitment is not binding on you or the school.