What is the NCAA?
The NCAA, or National Collegiate Athletic Association, was established in 1906 and serves as the athletics governing body for more than 1,280 colleges, universities, conferences and organizations. The national office is in Indianapolis, but the member colleges and universities develop the rules and guidelines for athletics eligibility and athletics competition for each of the three NCAA divisions. The NCAA is committed to the student-athlete and to governing competition in a fair, safe, inclusive and sportsmanlike manner.
The NCAA membership includes: 326 active Division I members; 281 active Division II members; and 421 active Division III members.
One of the differences among the three divisions is that colleges and universities in Divisions I and II may offer athletics scholarships, while Division III colleges and universities may not. There are 59 schools competing at the Division I level in men's hockey.
The NCAA Eligibility Center
The NCAA Eligibility Center in Indianapolis, Indiana - sometimes 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.
To assist with this process, the eligibility center staff is eager to foster a cooperative environment of education and partnership with high schools, high school coaches and college-bound student-athletes. NCAA regulations are set by NCAA colleges and universities and require all incoming student-athletes to meet a prescribed level of academic performance while maintaining their amateur status before entering college. The eligibility center will collect data from high schools, sport-sanctioning bodies and, most importantly, high school student-athletes in order to make eligibility decisions. Ultimately, the individual student-athlete is responsible for achieving and protecting his or her eligibility status.
If you plan to participate in intercollegiate athletics at an NCAA Division I or II institution, you must have both your academic and amateurism status certified by the eligibility center before representing the institution in competition.
When you register with the eligibility center, you will be asked about benefits and activities that might impact your status as an amateur. The information you provide about your athletics participation will be reviewed and a determination will be made as to whether your amateurism status should be certified or if a penalty should be assessed before certification. If a penalty is assessed, you will have an opportunity to appeal the decision.
The following precollegiate enrollment activities will be reviewed:
1. Contracts with a professional team.
2. Salary for participating in athletics.
3. Prize money.
4. Play with professionals.
5. Tryouts, practice or competition with a professional team.
6. Benefits from an agent or prospective agent.
7. Agreement to be represented by an agent.
8. Delayed initial full-time collegiate enrollment to participate in organized sports competition.
Additional information regarding NCAA amateurism rules is available on the NCAA Eligibility Center's resource page.
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?
You need to complete the following:
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) (for complete details, see the Freshman Eligibility Standards Quick Reference Sheet for Division I or a minimum 2.0 GPA for Division II);
4. Present a qualifying test score on either the ACT or SAT (for complete details, see the Freshman Eligibility Standards Quick Reference Sheet); and
5. Request final amateurism certification (beginning April 1 for fall enrollees or beginning October 1 for spring enrollees).
How do I know if the courses I am taking will count as core courses?
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 "U.S. 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; and
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.
What do I do if a core course I took is not on the list?
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.
What is the lowest grade that will be used for a course to count as a core course?
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.
Will credit-by-exam courses meet core-course requirements?
No. Courses completed through credit-by-exam will not be used.
Are vocational courses acceptable?
No. Traditional vocational courses (e.g., typing, auto mechanics, driver's education and health) are not acceptable.
Do pass/fail grades count?
Maybe, 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.
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 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.
May independent-study, Internet and correspondence courses count as core courses?
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. 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.
To read more about this new rule, go to www.eligibilitycenter.org and click the "High School Administrators Enter Here" link, then the "Resources" page and read the documents related to online/virtual/credit recovery courses.
May college courses count as core courses?
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.
How are courses taken over two years counted?
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.)
May my study in a foreign country help me meet core-course requirements?
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.
How is my core-course GPA calculated?
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.
Can weighted grades for honors or advanced-placement courses be factored into the calculation of the student's core GPA?
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.
How is the NCAA core GPA different from a student's overall GPA?
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.
There are many more questions addressed at the NCAA Eligibility Center site.