The first thing that any prospective student-athlete needs to be is eligible. If a student-athlete is not eligible for participation in collegiate athletics, then they may not be eligible to receive an athletic scholarship. To ensure that a prospective student-athlete is eligible, they must first register with the NCAA eligibility center. If you have legal questions related to NCAA student-athlete eligibility, then you should speak to an experienced attorney as soon as possible.
What is the NCAA Eligibility Center?
The NCAA Eligibility Center is an organization within the NCAA that evaluates and certifies whether a prospective student-athlete should be eligible for competition. The NCAA Eligibility Center certifies student-athletes at the Division I and Division II level. The main two things that the NCAA Eligibility Center is responsible for are determining if a student-athlete is academically eligible and if the student-athlete satisfies the rules to be considered an amateur athlete. Student-athletes can register for the NCAA Eligibility Center as soon as their Freshman year in high school. Student-athletes can also check their school's list of core courses that are approved by the NCAA towards eligibility.
NCAA Eligibility Center Account Types
There are two different types of NCAA Eligibility Center accounts, a certification account and a profile page. A certification account is meant for Division I or Division II prospective student-athletes. This type of account is required to sign a National Letter of Intent (NLI) with a Division I or II school. A student-athlete is required to have a certification account if he or she wants to go on an official visit to a Division I or II school. A fee of either $90 for domestic students or $150 for international students will be collected by the NCAA to open a certification account.
The second type of NCAA Eligibility Center account is known as a profile page. This type of account is meant for undecided students and Division III student-athletes. There is no fee for a profile page, and a student-athlete can switch his or her account to a certification account at any time. A profile page will not help a student-athlete earn any type of certification necessary to compete in collegiate athletics. All student-athletes must go through the NCAA Eligibility Center before they participate in collegiate athletics.
NCAA Division I and II Initial-Eligibility Academic Requirements
Student-athletes at the Division I or Division II level must be cleared by the NCAA to participate, compete, and receive an athletic scholarship. Getting this clearance is known as earning initial eligibility.
At the Division I level, there are three possible outcomes for student-athletes seeking academic certification: qualifier, non-qualifier, or academic redshirt.
- A Division I qualifier is a student-athlete who meets the core course standards, has a minimum core-course GPA of 2.3, and has a combined SAT or ACT score that corresponds to their core-course GPA requirement.
- An academic redshirt meets the core course standards, has a minimum core-course GPA between 2.0 and 2.299, and has a combined SAT or ACT score that corresponds to their core-course GPA requirement. An academic redshirt student-athlete could use courses retaken during senior year if they did not meet the required number of core courses before senior year.
- A Division I non-qualifier is not eligible to participate, compete, or receive an athletics scholarship during their first year.
At the Division II level, there are three possible outcomes for student-athletes seeking academic certification: qualifier, partial qualifier, and non-qualifier.
- A Division II qualifier is a student-athlete who meets the core course standards, has a minimum core-course GPA of 2.2, and has a combined SAT or ACT score that corresponds to their core-course GPA requirement.
- A partial qualifier meets the core course standards, has a minimum core-course GPA between 2.0, and has a combined SAT or ACT score that corresponds to their core-course GPA requirement. A partial qualifier is eligible to practice and receive an athletic scholarship but cannot compete with his or her team.
- A Division II non-qualifier is not eligible to participate, compete, or receive an athletics scholarship during their first year.
It is essential to understand your qualification status so you can do what is necessary to ensure your eligibility clearance by the NCAA so you can participate, compete, and receive athletic aid as an NCAA student-athlete.
NCAA Amateurism Requirements
Generally, NCAA student-athletes must be considered amateurs in their sport to allow them to compete at the collegiate level and receive athletic aid. The NCAA does not allow student-athletes to:
- Sign professional sports contracts
- Earn a salary for competing in athletics
- Earn any prize money above actual expenses
- Play with professional athletes or a professional team
- Receive a benefit from a sports agent
- Agree to representation from a sports agent
The recent changes to Name, Image, & Likeness rules have allowed student-athletes to profit off of themselves, but the NCAA still requires athletes to remain as amateurs in every other sense of the word to maintain eligibility.
What is a Core Course?
To be deemed eligible for competition at the Division I or II levels, a student-athlete must complete a total of 16 core courses. Core courses are college prep courses that are meant to prepare students for a four-year university. These courses are taught by a qualified instructor and are taught at or above the typical level of the student-athlete's high school. NCAA core courses include English, math, social science, natural or physical science, foreign language, philosophy, or comparative religion.
At the Division I level, a student-athlete must complete 10 NCAA-approved core courses by the start of his or her seventh high school semester. The NCAA requires that seven of the ten core courses have to be in English, science, or math. At the Division II level, a student-athlete must complete his or her 16 core courses at any time before they enroll at a Division II school.
What is a Non-Traditional Course?
A non-traditional course is one that is taught in an alternative method when compared to a traditional core course. Non-traditional course examples include courses that are taught:
- Through distance learning
- Through independent study
- Through correspondence
- Other similar methods
Non-traditional courses are not automatically eligible to count towards a student-athlete's core courses and must be approved by the NCAA to count towards a student-athlete's eligibility.
NCAA Division III School Eligibility Requirements
All NCAA Division III schools decide on their own policies and procedures for determining eligibility for student-athletes. Division III schools determine their own eligibility standards for admission, financial aid, and practice and competition. The NCAA Eligibility Center is not required for Division III athletes, and the NCAA will not issue a certification for anyone looking to compete at the Division III level. A Division III student-athlete has the option to register for a profile page on the NCAA Eligibility Center, but it is not required nor typically expected.
Why Hiring the Lento Law Firm is the Right Choice
If you are an NCAA student-athlete who needs help becoming eligible, then it is important to seek the advice of an experienced attorney. Attorney Joseph D. Lento has successfully represented countless student-athletes across the country dealing with eligibility issues. Call us today at 888-535-3686 to learn why hiring the Lento Law Firm is the right choice to help you earn your NCAA eligibility.