Frequently Asked Questions
- Major Junior, Amateurism and NCAA Eligibility
- Family Advisors
- Athletic Scholarships
- Financial Aid
- NCAA Eligibility Center or Clearinghouse
- Academic Eligibility
Q: I am a 16-year-old sophomore in high school and have written numerous emails to college coaches - why haven't any of them written back to me?
A: Division I college hockey coaches are not allowed to initiate contact with prospective student athletes until Jan. 1 of their sophomore year (Grade 10) in high school. That means they cannot reply to emails, text messages, or return phone calls prior to that date.
Q: Is there a way for me to speak with a college coach prior to Jan. 1 of my grade 10 year?
A: Yes. You may reach out to college coaches as often as you would like prior to and after Jan. 1 of your grade 10 year, but in order to speak with them you must reach them by phone or speak face to face on campus. If you are unable to get them on the phone you should keep trying until you succeed.
Q: Why can't coaches call me back prior to Jan. 1 of my 10th grade year?
A: College hockey coaches must comply with NCAA rules, which prohibit coaches in all sports from actively recruiting players at that age.
Q: How do I get noticed by college hockey coaches?
A: College hockey coaches spend a tremendous amount of time and energy scouting and recruiting potential student athletes. If you play for a competitive midget minor, midget major, junior, or high school team, and are an elite player, there is a good a chance that the college coaches know about you.
We highly recommend that American players try out for the USA select festivals that are held in Rochester, N.Y., every summer. We also recommend you make a list of the schools you are interested in and visit their respective web sites and team pages. Most college hockey teams have a "recruiting questionnaire" on their team web site and it would be beneficial to fill out a questionnaire for each school that interests you.
It can also be worthwhile to create a "hockey resume" to introduce yourself to college coaches. Click here for tips on writing a hockey resume.
Q: Where should I play to prepare to play college hockey?
A: More than a dozen junior and high school leagues sent players directly to Division I in 2013-14 - so in simple terms, there is no right answer. If you are good enough, college coaches will find you.
Q: Can I go straight from high school and play college hockey?
A: Yes. If a college coach thinks you are physically and mentally prepared for the challenges of college hockey then they will recruit you straight from high school. College coaches often recommend that a player take extra time, following his graduation from high school, to play junior hockey so that player can mature both physically and mentally prior to jumping into the college game.
Q: What is the difference between an official college visit and unofficial visit?
A: An official college visit is a 48-hour, expense-paid visit. An official visit cannot be taken until the first day of classes of the prospective student-athlete's senior year in high school. A student athlete is allowed (5) five total official visits but only (1) one per school. An unofficial visit is paid for by the student athlete, can take place at any time and can last any length of time. There is no limit to the number of unofficial visits a student can take. During an unofficial visit the coaching staff may meet with a prospective student athlete and provide him with a tour of the campus and facilities. Read this story for more about the benefits of unofficial visits.
Q: What kind of grades do I need to play college hockey?
A: In order for a prospective student athlete to be academically eligible to play in the NCAA he must have graduated from high school, fulfilled a core curriculum of at least 16 courses, and met a minimum index score that combines standardized tests scores (SAT, ACT) and GPA. A prospective student athlete should regularly meet with a college counselor, provided by their high school, in order to ensure they meet these requirements. All certified high school college counselors should be familiar with the necessary steps and minimum requirements set forth by the NCAA. More information can be found at the NCAA Eligibility Center (see below).
Q: What's the 21-year-old rule?
A: If you play a junior A hockey game after your 21st birthday you will lose one year of NCAA athletic eligibility, leaving you with three years remaining (this rule applies only to Division I competition).
Student-athletes can retain their four years of NCAA eligibility and play a junior A game after turning 21 if they enroll full-time in a post-secondary institution. While this starts a student-athlete's five-year eligibility "clock," they could use their full four years of eligibility provided that they enroll at the NCAA Division I school the following fall. The institution in this case may not be an online school. It also cannot field a varsity hockey program (in the U.S. or Canada) or the student-athlete would be subject to NCAA transfer rules.
Q: Can I try out for an NCAA team even if I wasn't recruited?
A: Many Division I teams will hold open tryouts of some sort for students who were not recruited and meet NCAA Eligibility Center standards, though the number of opportunities for these players are very limited. Check with the school's hockey office for more information.
Q: I was recently drafted by a team from the CHL (which includes the OHL, WHL, and QMJHL) and they want me to sign a contract immediately. Is it okay for me to sign a contract even though I won't play for them this year?
A: No. Signing a contract with any professional team (that includes Canadian major junior teams) results in the loss of NCAA eligibility even if you never play a game for that team.
Q: I have been invited by a CHL team to their Rookie/Training camp and they have offered to pay for all my expenses, will this affect my eligibility?
A: You can attend (1) one, 48-hour, expense-paid visit per professional team. The 48-hour period begins when you arrive at the team's facility and ends exactly 48 hours later. While in attendance the team can supply you with expenses that include travel, hotel, food, equipment, and all costs associated with practice and off-ice training. You must leave the facility once the 48-hour time period has expired in order to receive an expense paid return trip home.
Click here for a checklist of all you need to know before attending a CHL camp.
Q: Can I stay at a CHL rookie/training camp longer than 48 hours?
A: Yes, provided you cover the cost of all expenses incurred, including cost for the return trip home, following the initial 48-hour time period. The most common expenses incurred, beyond travel, would be food and lodging.
Q: I attended rookie camp for a particular CHL team and now that same team has asked me to attend their main camp as well - will this affect my NCAA eligibility?
A: If the team covered your expenses at the rookie camp then you must cover your expenses at the main camp in order to remain eligible for NCAA hockey. You are only allowed to accept (1) one 48-hour expense paid visit/tryout per CHL team.
Q: I am going to a CHL camp and we are scrimmaging another team - can I play in the scrimmage?
A: No. While in attendance at a CHL camp/tryout, you may not participate in any scrimmages or exhibition games against outside teams. You may participate in an intra-squad scrimmage (i.e. a blue and white game).
Q: I was drafted in the in CHL and received a jersey, hat, and t-shirt in the mail - am I allowed to keep these items?
A: No, you cannot accept jerseys, hats, t-shirts, or any material benefits from professional teams without paying for them. If you have received items in the mail your options are as follows: Mail the item(s) back, pay the team for the cost of the item(s) or donate the item(s) to charity.
Q: I played for (or signed with) an OHL, QMJHL or WHL team. What can I do to regain NCAA eligibility?
A: There is an appeals process for players who have played in the CHL and some have gone on to play NCAA hockey. The appeal must be filed by the NCAA school and only once the student-athlete has enrolled on campus. The minimum penalty is typically one year of athletic eligibility.
Q: How do I hire a family advisor? And who should I hire?
A: A family advisor can be a helpful and informative resource, but it is not necessary that you have one unless you are a player who is projected to be drafted in the NHL. If you are going to make a decision on an advisor we recommend you interview at least a few different advisors and as a family decide who you feel most comfortable with.
For more information about deciding on a family advisor and following NCAA requirements, read this article.
Q: Can I attend a testing session with an NHL team and retain my college eligibility?
A: NCAA regulations allow student-athletes (or prospective student-athletes) to take part in one testing or tryout session per NHL team, at the team's expense, for up to 48 hours. An exception is if a player takes part in the NHL Draft Combine or the NHL Research and Development Camp - those events are considered tryouts for all 30 teams. A player could participate in another tryout beyond those events, but would need to pay his own way.
Q: Can I attend an NHL team's summer development camp?
A: NCAA players may attend NHL summer development camps, or prospect camps, but must pay their own way (transportation, lodging, food, etc.).
Q: What are athletic scholarships?
A: An athletic scholarship is financial aid from a university or college based in any degree on the athletic ability of the student-athlete. Athletic scholarships are formalized by entering into agreements called "National Letters of Intent," which is a written agreement between the institution and the student-athlete.
Q: What is a "National Letter of Intent"?
A: The National Letter of Intent (NLI) is the name of the document that formalizes an athletic scholarship. It is a binding agreement between a student-athlete and a university in which the university agrees to provide athletic aid in exchange for the student-athlete's agreement to attend the university.
Learn more about the NLI.
Q: What is a verbal commitment?
A: A verbal commitment is a non-binding agreement between a prospect and a coach to attend that coach's institution.
Q: What is covered by an athletic scholarship?
A: Funds for tuition and fees, books, room and board, and certain other expenses. The only required expense that a full athletic scholarship cannot cover is transportation to and from campus.
Not all hockey scholarships are full scholarships - some may cover half or some other portion of expenses.
Q: Are scholarships guaranteed for four years?
A: Thanks to a change in NCAA rules in 2011, scholarship agreements may be made for anywhere from one to five years.
Signing a National Letter of Intent, even for a scholarship promised for four years, commits a student-athlete to that school for one year.
Even those scholarship agreements made for one season are almost always renewed annually; they are very rarely cancelled and never for on-ice performance.
Q: Can athletic scholarships be cancelled if I play badly or the coach doesn't like me?
A: Athletic scholarships may not be reduced or cancelled year-to-year based on your ability or performance, because an injury prevents you from participating or for any other athletic reason.
If you are receiving an athletic scholarship, the scholarship may be reduced or cancelled only if you:
- render yourself ineligible for NCAA competition;
- misrepresented any information on your application, letter of intent or financial aid agreement;
- commit serious misconduct which warrants a substantial disciplinary penalty; or
- voluntarily quit the team for personal reasons.
Q: Who decides if I get an athletic scholarship?
A: Coaches. Although admissions offices can refuse the admission of any student, thereby effectively refusing an athletic scholarship, coaches and athletic departments typically have a good sense of what to expect from their admissions office. This allows coaches to scout and recruit players who they can reasonably expect to earn admission.
Q: Does every student-athlete receive a 100% or "full" scholarship?
A: Universities are permitted to grant 18 "full" scholarships and typically carry around 26 players, so not all are on full scholarships. In other words, most NCAA teams have some players who receive only a portion of their expenses in athletic scholarship (i.e. partial scholarship) and some players who receive all of their expenses in scholarship (i.e. full scholarship).
Q: What is financial aid?
A: Financial aid is a grant from the university that is not based on athletic ability or participation on an athletic team.
Q: What is covered by financial aid?
A: Financial aid can be granted for tuition and fees, room and board, books and transportation.
Q: How do universities determine the amount of financial aid granted?
A: Although determining financial aid varies between universities, it is typically calculated based on the student and his parents' ability to contribute to the cost of post-secondary education. This is determined by evaluating the current savings and expected earnings of the student over the summer and the student's parents' overall wealth (i.e. earnings, savings, investments, etc.). Based on these types of criteria, the institution makes a judgment on the amount that the student and parents are able to contribute toward a university education. In theory, any shortfall between the expected contribution and the expected university expenses is covered by financial aid.
Other forms of financial aid include academic aid, which can be granted based upon a student's academic ability.
NCAA Eligibility Center
Q: What is the NCAA Eligibility Center (or clearinghouse)?
A: The NCAA Eligibility Center, often referred to as the "clearinghouse", certifies the academic and amateur credentials of all college-bound student-athletes who wish to compete in NCAA Division I or II athletics. Prospective student-athletes should register at eligibilitycenter.org by 11th grade to help ensure that they are on the right path to qualify academically. Click here for more information on NCAA eligibility.
Q: When should a student register with the NCAA Eligibility Center?
Q: Should I visit the Eligibility Center prior to grade 11?
Q: What requirements do I need to be able to practice, play and get a scholarship at an NCAA Division I or II college or university?
A: You need to complete the following to be certified by the NCAA Eligibility Center:
1. Graduate from high school;
2. Complete a minimum of 16 (for Division I) or 14 (for Division II) core courses;
3. Present the required grade-point average (GPA);
4. Present a qualifying test score on either the ACT or SAT; and
5. Request final amateurism certification from the Eligibility Center (beginning April 1 for fall enrollees or beginning October 1 for spring enrollees).
Q: How do I know if the courses I am taking will count as core courses?
A: You need to look at your high school's list of NCAA courses. Follow these steps:
1. Go to the NCAA Eligibility Center website at www.eligibilitycenter.org;
2. Click on the "NCAA College-Bound Student-Athletes" link to enter;
3. Click on "Resources";
4. Click on the appropriate link for "U.S. Students" or "International Students";
5. Click on "List of NCAA Courses";
6. Input your high school's CEEB code (if you know it) or search by your high school's name and state; Canadian students can find CEEB codes for each province here;
7. Review the list.
*Very important: If a core course you took is not on the list, it will not be used in your eligibility determination. Courses that appear on your transcript must exactly match what is on the list.
Q: What do I do if a core course I took is not on the list?
A: See your high school counselor immediately. Someone at your high school is responsible for keeping your high school's list updated. It is important your high school does this each year to make sure the core courses you are taking appear on the list.
Q: What is the lowest grade that will be used for a course to count as a core course?
A: Follow your high school's policy regarding its lowest passing grade. If the NCAA Eligibility Center does not have this policy, the lowest passing grade that will be used is D.
Q: Will credit-by-exam courses meet core-course requirements?
A: No. Courses completed through credit-by-exam will not be used.
Q: Are vocational courses acceptable?
A: No. Traditional vocational courses (e.g., typing, auto mechanics, driver's education and health) are not acceptable.
Q: Do pass/fail grades count?
A: These grades may satisfy your core-course requirements. The NCAA Eligibility Center will assign your high school's lowest passing grade for a pass/fail class so long as the course receives credit toward graduation.
Q: May courses taken in the eighth grade that are high school core courses (e.g., Algebra I, Spanish 1, Freshman Composition) be used to meet the core-course requirement?
A: A high school course taken in the eighth grade may be used if the course is on the high school transcript with a grade and credit and if the course is on the high school's list of NCAA courses.
Q: May independent-study, Internet and correspondence courses count as core courses?
A: Yes, if the following four conditions are met (beginning August 1, 2010):
1. Courses that are taught through distance learning, online, credit recovery, etc. need to be comparable in length, content and rigor to courses taught in a traditional classroom setting. Students may not skip lessons or test out of modules. The course must be four-year college preparatory.
2. All courses must include ongoing access between the instructor and student, as well as regular interaction for purposes of teaching, evaluating and providing assistance. This may include, for example, exchanging of e-mails between the student and teacher, feedback on assignments, and the opportunity for the teacher to engage the student in individual instruction. Any course taken must have a defined time period for completion. For example, it should be clear whether the course is meant to be taken for an entire semester or during a more condensed time frame, such as six weeks, etc.
3. Nontraditional courses should be clearly identified as such on the high school transcript.
Nontraditional courses completed prior to August 1, 2010, will be reviewed under NCAA standards in place prior to August 1, 2010. It is important to remember that all courses need to be rigorous and four-year college preparatory in nature.
4. Students should be encouraged to take courses that are quantitatively and qualitatively the same as courses offered through traditional means, and to take courses that will prepare them for the academic rigors they will face at a four-year college or university.
Q: May college courses count as core courses?
A: College courses may be used to satisfy core-curriculum requirements if the courses are accepted and awarded credit by the high school for any student and meet all other requirements for core courses. For NCAA Division I only, such courses must be placed on the student's high school transcript. Courses taken at a college will NOT appear on the high school's list of NCAA courses. The high school's list of NCAA courses will include only those courses taught/offered by the high school.
Q: How are courses taken over two years counted?
A: A one-year course that is spread over a longer period of time is considered one course and will receive a maximum of one core-course credit. (Example: Algebra 1, spread over two years, would receive one unit of credit.)
Q: May my study in a foreign country help me meet core-course requirements?
A: If you attended a secondary school outside the United States for all or part of grades nine through 12, different evaluation procedures will be applied to your international education documents. You must submit original-language documents with certified translations for NCAA Eligibility Center evaluation.
Q: How is my core-course GPA calculated?
A: Your core-course GPA is the average of your best grades achieved for all required core courses. If you have taken extra core courses, those courses will be used in your GPA, only if they improve your GPA.
Q: Can weighted grades for honors or advanced-placement courses be factored into the calculation of the student's core GPA?
A: A school's normal practice of weighting honors or advanced courses may be used, as long as the weighting is used for computing GPAs. Weighting cannot be used if the high school weights grades for the purpose of determining class rank. Additionally, in no instance may the student receive greater than 1.000 additional quality point for purposes of calculating the GPA for initial eligibility.
Q: How is the NCAA core GPA different from a student's overall GPA?
A: The NCAA core-course GPA is calculated using only NCAA-approved core courses in the required number of core units. High school GPAs generally include the grades from most or all courses attempted in grades nine through 12.
Q: How are these academic standards changing in 2016?
A: Read this article for a full explanation of new standards that will go into effect for student-athletes enrolling in the fall of 2016.
Q: Will courses taken after my senior year meet core-course requirements?
Q: I need to take the SATs. Where can I find more information about them?
A: The SAT is a standardized test used by colleges and the NCAA to help determine college admission and eligibility. Visit the College Board web site for more information on the SAT, including test dates, registration and study guides. Many companies offer customized tutoring or instructional books to help students prepare to take the SATs.
Some schools also accept the ACT, another form of standardized test. Click here for more information on the ACT.
You do not have to take both the SAT and ACT.
Q: May a nonstandard ACT/SAT exam be used for initial eligibility?