Divisions I and II Initial-Eligibility Requirements

Eligibility Rules

What is the NCAA Eligibility Center? Why is it Important?

The NCAA Eligibility Center took over operations for the NCAA Initial-Eligibility Clearinghouse in November 2007. The Eligibility Center certifies the academic and amateur credentials of all students who want to play sports at an NCAA Division I or II institution as freshmen. In order to practice, play and receive an athletics scholarship, students need to meet certain academic benchmarks. An additional certification process exists to make sure the student is still an amateur, which is necessary in order for the student to compete.

Academic Credentials + Amateurism Status = College Eligible

What are the Academic Initial-Eligibility Requirements?

The following requirements must be met in order for a student to be able to practice, play and receive a scholarship at an NCAA Division I or II college or university.

Division I:

1. Graduate from high school;

2. Complete a minimum of 16 core courses;

3. Present the required grade-point average (GPA) (see the sliding scale in the Guide for the College-Bound Student-Athlete for Division I);

4. Present a qualifying test score on either the ACT or SAT (see the sliding scale in the Guide for the College-Bound Student-Athlete); and

5. Complete the amateurism questionnaire and request final amateurism certification. 

Division I Core-Course Breakdown (Courses Must Appear on your List of Approved Core Courses)

- 4 years of English

- 3 years of math (Algebra 1 or higher)

- 2 years of natural or physical science (including one year of lab science if offered by your high school)

- 1 extra year of English, math, or natural or physical science

- 2 years of social science

- 4 years of extra core courses from any category above, or foreign language, nondoctrinal/comparative religion/philosophy


Division II

1. Graduate from high school;2. Complete a minimum of 14 core courses (Note: increase to 16 core courses for class of 2013 and beyond);

3. Present a minimum 2.000 core-course grade-point average (GPA);

4. Present a minimum 820 SAT score (critical reading and math only) or 68 sum ACT score qualifying test score on either the ACT or SAT; and

5. Complete the amateurism questionnaire and request final amateurism certification.

Download the quick reference sheet with the requirements.

Division II Core-Course Breakdown: 
(Courses Must Appear on your List of Approved Core Courses)

- 3 years of English
- 2 years of math (Algebra 1 or higher)

- 2 years of natural or physical science (including one year of lab science if offered by your high school);

- 2 additional years of English, math, or natural or physical science (3 years required in 2013 and beyond)

- 2 years of social science

- 3 years of extra core courses from any category above, or foreign language, nondoctrinal/comparative religion/philosophy (4 years required in 2013 and beyond)

Academic Eligibility

To participate in Division I athletics or receive an athletics scholarship during the first year of college, a student-athlete must:
  • Complete the 16 core-course requirement in eight semesters:
    • 4 years of English
    • 3 years of math (Algebra 1 or higher)
    • 2 years of natural or physical science (including one year of lab science if offered by the high school)
    • 1 extra year of English, math or natural or physical science
    • 2 years of social science
    • 4 years of extra core courses (from any category above, or foreign language, nondoctrinal religion or philosophy)
  • Earn a minimum required grade-point average in core courses
  • Earn a combined SAT or ACT sum score that matches the core course grade-point average and test-score sliding scale. (For example, a 3.000 core-course grade-point average needs at least a 620 SAT).
Student-athletes enrolling in college in August 2015 and later must meet all of the above requirements to receive aid in the first year and practice in the first term. In order to compete in the first year, prospects must meet all of the above and:

Earn at least a 2.3 GPA in core courses
  • Meet an increased sliding-scale standard
  • Complete 10 core-courses prior to the start of the seventh semester, at least seven in English, math and science.
If a student-athlete earns nine credits in the first term, he or she can continue to practice the remainder of the year. If not, he or she can remain on aid but can’t practice.
 

 

Recruiting Rules

NCAA policies govern how coaches can recruit college-bound student-athletes. 

The rules specify when and how coaches can contact prospects, what materials can be sent and when student-athletes can visit campus. 

The rules differ from sport to sport.

The NCAA Eligibility Center administers the National Letter of Intent program. 

The National Letter of Intent is a contract between a college or university and a prospect that requires the college-bound student-athlete to attend the college or university for one academic year and the college or university to provide athletics financial aid for one academic year. 

The National Letter of Intent is a legal document and should be read carefully before being signed.

Financial Aid Individual colleges or universities award athletics grants-in-aid (often described as scholarships) on a one-year, renewable basis. 

They may be renewed for a maximum of five years within a six-year period of continuous college attendance. 

Aid can be renewed, canceled or reduced at the end of each year for many reasons. 

If a student-athlete’s aid will be reduced or canceled, the college or university must provide the student-athlete with an opportunity to appeal.

Financial aid is awarded in various amounts, ranging from full scholarships (including tuition, fees, room, board and books) to small awards that might provide only course-required books. 

Such partial awards are known as "equivalencies.” 

Some Division I sports (including Football Bowl Subdivision football and basketball) do not permit equivalencies.

All scholarships from any source in any amount must be reported to the college financial aid office. 

The total amount of financial aid a student-athlete can receive and the total amount of athletics aid a team can award may be limited.

These limits can affect whether a student-athlete can accept aid from other sources.

Athletics financial aid can be a tremendous benefit to most families, but some costs are not covered  (for example, travel between home and school). 

Also, although the benefits of athletically related financial aid are substantial, the likelihood of participating is relatively small. 

Any young person contemplating college attendance should use high school for legitimate academic preparation.

 

 

 

Amateurism Eligibility

All incoming student-athletes must be certified as an amateur student-athlete. 

With global recruiting becoming more common, determining the amateur status of college-bound student-athletes can be challenging. 

All college-bound student-athletes, including international students, need to adhere to NCAA amateurism requirements in order to preserve their eligibility for NCAA intercollegiate athletics.

Certification processAll college-bound student-athletes must have an academic and amateurism certification from the NCAA Eligibility Center.

The online registration process that must be completed by all future Division I and II college-bound student-athletes includes a questionnaire relating to the individual’s amateur status.  

For the staff at the NCAA Eligibility Center to certify amateur status, college-bound student-athletes must answer a questionnaire during registration.

The questionnaire covers the following precollegiate enrollment activities:

  • Contracts with professional teams
  • Salary for participating in athletics
  • Prize money
  • Play with professionals
  • Tryouts, practice or competition with a professional team
  • Benefits from an agent or prospective agent
  • Agreement to be represented by an agent
  • Delayed initial full-time collegiate enrollment to participate in organized sports competition

The Guide for the College-Bound Student-Athlete contains more detailed information about initial academic and amateurism eligibility.
 
 
 
 

Contact

A contact occurs any time a college coach says more than hello during a face-to-face contact with a college-bound student-athlete or his or her parents off the college’s campus.
 

 

Contact Period

During a contact period a college coach may have face-to-face contact with college-bound student-athletes or their parents, watch student-athletes compete and visit their high schools, and write or telephone student-athletes or their parents.
 

 

Evaluation Period

During an evaluation period a college coach may watch college-bound student-athletes compete, visit their high schools, and write or telephone student-athletes or their parents. However, a college coach may not have face-to-face contact with college-bound student-athletes or their parents off the college’s campus during an evaluation period.
 

 

Quiet Period

During a quiet period a college coach may not have face-to-face contact with college-bound student-athletes or their parents, and may not watch student-athletes compete or visit their high schools. Coaches may write or telephone college-bound student-athletes or their parents during this time.
 

 

Dead Period

During a dead period a college coach may not have face-to-face contact with college-bound student-athletes or their parents, and may not watch student-athletes compete or visit their high schools. Coaches may write and telephone student-athletes or their parents during a dead period.
 

 

Official & Unofficial Visits 

Any visit to a college campus by a college-bound student-athlete or his or her parents paid for by the college is an official visit. Visits paid for by college-bound student-athletes or their parents are unofficial visits.

During an official visit the college can pay for transportation to and from the college for the prospect, lodging and three meals per day for both the prospect and the parent or guardian, as well as reasonable entertainment expenses including three tickets to a home sports event.

The only expenses a college-bound student-athlete may receive from a college during an unofficial visit are three tickets to a home sports event.
 

 

National Leter Of Intent

A National Letter of Intent is signed by a college-bound student-athlete when the student-athlete agrees to attend a Division I or II college or university for one academic year. Participating institutions agree to provide financial aid for one academic year to the student-athlete as long as the student-athlete is admitted to the school and is eligible for financial aid under NCAA rules. Other forms of financial aid do not guarantee the student-athlete financial aid.The National Letter of Intent is voluntary and not required for a student-athlete to receive financial aid or participate in sports.

Signing an National Letter of Intent ends the recruiting process since participating schools are prohibited from recruiting student-athletes who have already signed letters with other participating schools.

A student-athlete who has signed a National Letter of Intent may request a release from his or her contract with the school. If a student-athlete signs a National Letter of Intent with one school but attends a different school, he or she will lose one full year of eligibility and must complete a full academic year at their new school before being eligible to compete.
 

 

Recruiting Calendar

Recruiting calendars help promote the well-being prospective student-athletes and coaches and ensure competitive equity by defining certain time periods in which recruiting may or may not occur in a particular sport.  

View the 2012 - 2013 NCAA Recruiting Calendars
 

 

Transfer Rules

Division I student-athletes interested in transferring to another four-year college or university and student-athletes at two-year colleges interested in attending a four-year school should be aware of the rules that govern the transfer process.

  • Eligibility: Transfers from two-year colleges must have their academic and amateur status certified, just as incoming freshmen do.
  • Permission to contact: Most transfers from four-year college or university to four-year college or university require a “permission-to-contact” letter from the current school’s athletics director to the new school’s coach or administrator. The new school cannot contact the student-athlete until the current school agrees to the contact. If the current school does not agree, the student-athlete can appeal.
  • Five-year clock: Division I student-athletes have five calendar years from the first enrollment at a two- or four-year school to compete four seasons of competition.
  • Academic year in residence: Research shows that student-athletes who remain at one college or university throughout their academic careers graduate at higher rates than those who transfer. To encourage an academic focus, the NCAA requires Division I student-athletes who transfer from a two-year school and do not meet transfer requirements or transfer from one four-year school to another four-year school to spend one academic year in residence before being eligible to play There are exceptions to the rule:
    • If the student-athlete has never transferred before from a four-year school and meets academic requirements, that student-athlete might be able to use the one-time transfer exception (except in baseball, basketball, men’s ice hockey or football).
    • If the first school dropped the sport of the affected student-athlete
    • If the student-athlete never has been recruited, received an athletics scholarship or practiced beyond a 14-consecutive day period at any school or participated in competition before transferring
    • If the student-athlete returns to the first school without participating at the second school
    • If the student-athlete did not practice or play in his or her sport for two years
Individual colleges or universities and conferences also often have their own rules governing transfers.

 New NCAA Division I Initial-Eligibility Standards 

The initial-eligibility standards for NCAA Division I college-bound student-athletes are changing. College-bound student-athletes first entering a Division I college or university on or after August 1, 2016, will need to meet new academic rules in order to receive athletics aid (scholarship), practice or compete during their first year. 

First, here are three terms you need to know: 

Full Qualifier: A college-bound student-athlete may receive athletics aid (scholarship), practice and compete in the first year of enrollment at the Division I college or university. 

Academic Redshirt: A college-bound student-athlete may receive athletics aid (scholarship) in the first year of enrollment and may practice in the first regular academic term (semester or quarter) but may NOT compete in the first year of enrollment. After the first term is complete, the college-bound student-athlete must be academically successful at his/her college or university to continue to practice for the rest of the year. 

Nonqualifier: A college-bound student-athlete cannot receive athletics aid (scholarship), cannot practice and cannot compete in the first year of enrollment.

 Here are the new requirements: 

Full Qualifier must: 

1. Complete 16 core courses (same distribution as in the past – click here to view); 

• Ten of the 16 core courses must be completed before the seventh semester (senior year) of high school. 

-  Seven of the 10 core courses must be English, math or science. 

2. Have a minimum core-course GPA of 2.300; 

• Grades earned in the 10 required courses required before the senior year are “locked in” for purposes of GPA calculation. 

- A repeat of one of the “locked in” courses will not be used to improve the GPA if taken after the seventh semester begins. 

3. Meet the competition sliding scale requirement of GPA and ACT/SAT score (this is a new scale with increased GPA/test score requirements); and 

4. Graduate from high school.

Academic Redshirt must:

1. Complete 16 core courses (same distribution as in the past – click here to view);

2. Have a minimum core-course GPA of 2.000;

3. Meet the academic redshirt sliding scale requirement of GPA and ACT/SAT score; and

4. Graduate from high school.

Nonqualifier is a college-bound student-athlete who fails to meet the standards for a qualifier or for an academic redshirt.

CLICK HERE TO VIEW THE NEW RULES AND SLIDING SCALES.

Examples:

Q: A college-bound student-athlete completes 15 core courses with a 2.500 core-course GPA and an 820 SAT score (critical reading and math). What is the college-bound student-athlete’s NCAA initial-eligibility status?

A: The college-bound student-athlete is a nonqualifier because only 15 core courses were completed, not the required 16 core courses

Q: A college-bound student-athlete completes 16 core courses in the required framework with a 2.500 core-course GPA and a 68 sum ACT. What is the college-bound student-athlete’s initial-eligibility status?

A: The college-bound student-athlete is an academic redshirt. Under the new competition scale, a 68 sum ACT score requires a 2.950 core-course GPA.

Q: A college-bound student-athlete completes nine core courses prior to the seventh semester of high school. What is the college-bound student-athlete’s initial-eligibility status?

A: The college-bound student-athlete cannot be certified as a qualifier because only nine of the 10 required courses were completed before the seventh semester. He/she would be permitted to practice and receive aid (scholarship), provided he/she presents 16 core courses and meets the necessary core-course GPA and test-score requirement at the time of graduation.

In mid-September, the NCAA Eligibility Center sent letters to high school principals, school counselors andeference Guide.

Dear Athletics Director:

Welcome back to a new school year! The NCAA Eligibility Center staff understands what an exciting and hectic time this is, and wishes to say thank you for all you do for students.

The NCAA Eligibility Center would like to let you know about new and upcoming academic rule changes that impact the classes of 2013 and 2016 and beyond, and whether your college-bound student-athletes will be eligible for practice, competition and financial aid in their first year at an NCAA Division I or II college or university.

Division I Changes—Overview


1. Increase in the minimum required core-course grade-point average (GPA) from 2.000 to 2.300.

2. Ten of the 16 required core courses must be completed before the beginning of the seventh semester (senior year).

a. Seven of these 10 required courses must be English, math or
natural/physical science.

b. A repeat of one of the "locked in" courses will not be used if taken after the seventh semester begins.

3. Increase in the overall core-course GPA as it relates to the ACT or SAT score, which results in a new sliding scale.

Who does this impact? 



Your incoming ninth grade class (class of 2016) must meet these new requirements if they plan to participate in intercollegiate athletics at the Division I level.

Division II Change--Reminder

• Increase in the number of required core courses from 14 to 16.

a. One additional course in English, math or science.

b. One additional course in any core academic area (English, math, science, social science) or foreign language, comparative religion/philosophy.

Who does this impact? 



Your current seniors (class of 2013) must meet this new rule if they plan to participate in intercollegiate athletics at the Division II level.

Where to Find Information


1. See the Quick Reference Guide or the Initial Eligibility Brochure included in this mailing.

2. See the NCAA Guide for the College-Bound Student-Athlete, available on the Resources page at www.eligibilitycenter.org.

3. See the Resources page on the High School Portal at www.eligibilitycenter.org (click on the High School Administrators tab to access this resource).

4. The NCAA Eligibility Center also offers a free course on the initial-eligibility requirements specifically designed for high school administrators and coaches, which is offered online at
www.nfhslearn.com.

Who Else Needs to Know


1. Students; 2. Coaches; 3. High school principal or headmaster;
4. High school counselors; 5. Middle school or junior high principals, counselors and activities directors; and 6. Parents.

Please help spread the word about these new rules to these groups. Share the documents included in this mailing, or let them know how to find the resources on the website that has been mentioned.

How You Can Help Your Student-Athletes


1. Ensure that your high school counselors update your school's List of NCAA Courses annually. If you are new to the process, or need a refresher, go to the Resources page of the High School Portal mentioned earlier. There is a section on how and when to update your school's list, which will help you through the process.

2. Ensure that your high school counselors send transcripts for registered students. Information regarding transcripts (including e-transcripts) may be found on the Resources page.

a. Registered juniors who have completed three years (six semesters); and b. Graduated seniors. 

Academic preparation is key to student success in college. Making sure a college-bound student-athlete is academically prepared for college is a significant undertaking that requires as much attention from parents, teachers, guidance counselors and coaches as athletics preparation.

In the coming weeks, the NCAA Eligibility Center will also be sending posters, which you can use as a visible reminder concerning the importance of academic preparation for your student-athletes. With your help and the help of your colleagues, the NCAA Eligibility Center hopes to spread the word regarding the importance of academics and these new rules.

Again, thank you for all you do to help students.

Sincerely,


The NCAA Eligibility Center

Dear High School Counselor:

Welcome back to a new school year! The NCAA Eligibility Center staff understands  what an exciting and hectic time this is, and wishes to say thank you for all you do for students.

The NCAA Eligibility Center would like to let you know about new and upcoming academic rule changes that impact the classes of 2013 and 2016 and beyond, and whether your college-bound student-athletes will be eligible for practice, competition and financial aid in their first year at an NCAA Division I or II college or university.

Division I Changes—Overview


1. Increase in the minimum required core-course grade-point average (GPA) from 2.000 to 2.300.

2. Ten of the 16 required core courses must be completed before the beginning of the seventh semester (senior year).

a. Seven of these 10 required courses must be English, math or
natural/physical science.

b. A repeat of one of the "locked in" courses will not be used if taken after the seventh semester begins.

3. Increase in the overall core-course GPA as it relates to the ACT or SAT score, which results in a new sliding scale.

Who does this impact? 

Your incoming ninth grade class (class of 2016) must meet these new requirements if they plan to participate in intercollegiate athletics at the Division I level.

Division II Change--Reminder


• Increase in the number of required core courses from 14 to 16. 

a. One additional course in English, math or science. 

b. One additional course in any core academic area (English, math, science, social science) or foreign language, comparative religion / philosophy.

Who does this impact? Your current seniors (class of 2013) must meet this new rule if they plan to participate in intercollegiate athletics at the Division II level.

Where to Find Information


1. See the Quick Reference Guide or the Initial Eligibility Brochure included in this mailing.

2. See the NCAA Guide for the College-Bound Student-Athlete, available on the Resources page at www.eligibilitycenter.org.

3. See the Resources page on the High School Portal at www.eligibilitycenter.org (click on the High School Administrators tab to access this resource).

4. The NCAA Eligibility Center also offers a free course on the initial-eligibility requirements specifically designed for high school administrators and coaches, which is offered online at
www.nfhslearn.com.

Who Else Needs to Know


1. Students; 2. Coaches; 3. High school principal or headmaster;
4. Athletics or activities director; 5. Middle school or junior high principals, counselors and activities directors; and 6. Parents.

Please help spread the word about these new rules to these groups. Share the documents included in this mailing, or let them know how to find the resources on the website that has been mentioned.

How You Can Help Your Student-Athletes


1. Update your school's List of NCAA Courses annually. If you are new to the process, or need a refresher, go to the Resources page of the High School Portal mentioned earlier. There is a section on how and when to update your school's list, which will help you through the process.

2. Send transcripts for registered students. Information regarding transcripts (including etranscripts) may be found on the Resources page.

a. Registered juniors who have completed three years (six semesters); and b. Graduated seniors.

Academic preparation is key to student success in college. Making sure a college-bound student-athlete is academically prepared for college is a significant undertaking that requires as much attention from parents, teachers, guidance counselors and coaches as athletics preparation.

In the coming weeks, the NCAA Eligibility Center will also be sending posters, which you can use as a visible reminder concerning the importance of academic preparation for your student-athletes. With your help and the help of your colleagues, the NCAA Eligibility Center hopes to spread the word regarding the importance of academics and these new rules.

Again, thank you for all you do to help students.

Sincerely,


The NCAA Eligibility Center


DIVISION II CORE-COURSE INCREASE

REMINDER: All college-bound student-athletes who plan to participate in intercollegiate athletics at an NCAA Division II college or university must present 16 core courses, which is an increase from the current standard of 14 core courses. This applies to current seniors and younger.

This rule impacts those college-bound student-athletes who plan to enroll at a Division II college or university on or after August 1, 2013.

The increase includes:

- One additional course in English, math or science; and

- One additional course in any core academic area (English, math, science, social science) or foreign language, comparative religion/philosophy.

Here is the core-course breakdown:

- 3 years English;

- 2 years math;

- 2 years natural/physical science;

- 3 years additional English, math or science;

- 2 years social science; and

- 4 years additional courses from any area above, or from foreign language, comparative religion/philosophy.

The core-course grade-point average of 2.000 remains unchanged, as does the requirement of a minimum SAT score of 820 (critical reading/math only) or an ACT sum score of 68.

For more information, see the Quick Reference Sheet or the Guide for the College-Bound Student- Athlete, both of which are on the Resources tab.

 

Undiscovered Violations:
If an operator or coach is granted an approval based on the conducted background check and information is later discovered that would have warranted a denial had the information appeared on the background check, the participant approval previously granted may be withdrawn. The NCAA staff will contact the operator/coach involved prior to withdrawing the approval and provide the individual an opportunity to dispute the information OR provide documentation that indicates the charges on his/her record do not warrant a denial. If the individual's criminal history is determined to meet the criteria outlined as a restriction, the participant approval for that individual will be revoked and he/she will not be permitted to operate an event/league or to participate in coaching activities at an NCAA-certified event.

Offenses Committed Subsequent to 
Receipt of Credential:

If a credential for participation was previously granted or is pending, and the applicant is subsequently indicted or charged for any crime not known at the time the previous application was submitted, the applicant must immediately notify the NCAA basketball certification staff. The prior approval or pending application will automatically be suspended, pending resolution of the indictment or charge. Provided that the applicant has notified the NCAA basketball certification staff of the pending adjudication(s), a conviction, adjudication or term of probation imposed under any new indictment or charge, the amended application shall then be reviewed consistent with the criteria set forth.

"Prior to" Requirement:

If an activity has received both event and league certification, coaches are required to receive a coaches' approval prior to participating in coaching activities during the July evaluation period.

Non-Prospect Aged Teams:

If an event has been certified but contains younger athlete or adult divisions that will not be observed by NCAA coaches, the coaches of those teams are not required to obtain a coaches approval. The coaches' approval requirement applies only to those teams participating within the certified event.

If a younger team "play up" and will be participating in activities viewable by NCAA coaches, then the coaches of those teams will have to complete the approval process prior to coaching in the event even though the team's athletes are not prospect aged.

Strict Enforcement:

The participant approval requirement is strictly enforced. No individual will be certified to operate an NCAAcertified event or league without an approval. Similarly, any NCAA-certified event that allows the participation of a single unapproved coach will be ineligible for certification the following year.

Additionally, any team that provides false and/or misleading information in the Basketball Certification System (BBCS) or to the NCAA by any means OR purposely violates any of the NCAA's demographic, residency (adjoining state), coaches' approval or other legislated requirements will result in the withdrawal of the coaches' approvals for all coaches associated with that team, which will prohibit those coaches from participating in any coaching activity at any NCAA-certified event for a period of up to five years.

Provision of False and Misleading Information

Operators:

As a condition of NCAA certification, activity operators attest that the information provided in their application is complete and accurate to the best of their knowledge and belief. 


Certification granted based on false or misleading information will be withdrawn. The provision of false and misleading information to the basketball certification staff will result in ineligibility for certification for a period of up to three years.

Teams:

Any team that provides false and/or misleading information in the Basketball Certification System (BBCS) or to the NCAA by any means, including through an event operator, OR purposely violates any of the NCAA's demographic, residency (adjoining state), coaches' approval or other legislated requirements will result in the withdrawal of the coaches' approvals for all coaches associated with that team, which will prohibit those coaches from participating in any coaching activity at any NCAA-certified event for a period of up to five years.