College Athletics Eligibility
Participation in college level sports is very different form participation in high school sports. In order to participate in college athletics, the student needs to be determined “eligible” for participation. There are two organizations that deal with college athlete eligibility: National College Athletic Association (NCAA) or National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA). The two associations were formed to set standards in college sports.
In order to participate in athletics, the senior needs to apply to the NCAA Clearinghouse to be certified as a college athlete. There are three division levels:
- Division I
Member institutions have to sponsor at least seven sports for men and seven for women (or six for men and eight for women) with two team sports for each gender. Each playing season has to be represented by each gender as well. There are contest and participant standards for each sport, as well as scheduling criteria. Division I schools must meet minimum financial aid awards for their athletics program, and there are maximum financial aid awards for each sport that a Div I school cannot exceed.
- Division II
Member institutions have to sponsor at least four sports for men and four for women, with two team sports for each gender, and each playing season represented by each gender. There are contest and participant standards for each sport, as well as scheduling criteria. There are maximum financial aid awards for each sport that a Div. II school must not exceed. Division II teams usually feature a number of local or in-state student athletes. Many Division II studentathletes pay for school through a combination of scholarship money, grants, student loans and employment earnings. Division II athletic programs are financed in the institution’s budget like other academic departments on campus.
- Division III
Member institutions have to sponsor at least five sports for men and five for women, with two team sports for each gender, and each playing season represented by each gender. There are minimum contest and participant minimums for each sport. Division III athletics features student-athletes who receive no financial aid related to their athletic ability and athletic departments are staffed and funded like any other department in the university. Division III athletic departments place special importance on the impact of athletics on the participants rather than on the spectators. The student-athlete’s experience is of paramount concern. Division III athletics encourages participation by maximizing the number and variety of athletic opportunities available to students, placing primary emphasis on regional in-season and conference competition.
In order to participate in Junior/Community College Athletics, students need to meet similar requirements as with NCAA. NJCAA serves as the clearinghouse for students who are interested in competing in Junior College Athletics. Student and member institutions should also follow the guidelines set by NJCAA. In order to participate, students need to be cleared by NJCAA via a letter of intent from the junior college and approved by the NJCAA.
Tips for monitoring your initial eligibility progress
- Obtain needed documents.
- Know the high school list of NCAA approved courses, your grades and your credits.
- Do the math to determine your eligibility.
- Understand the recruitment process.
- Forms are available at the NCAA website and in the Counseling Office.
- Complete the application to NCAA Clearinghouse in the beginning of your senior year.
- Eligibility of participation in the division depends on the students’ GPA and ACT/SAT scores.
- For student athletes who are taking the ACT, the scores from the April state-wide test date will not be used by the NCAA as a determinant of eligibility. Students who take additional ACT/SAT tests should mark code “9999” for the scholarship/college code on the ACT/SAT registration.
- One copy of the NCAA Clearinghouse application needs to be submitted to your high school coach.
- Follow the procedure on college recruiting. Know your rights and responsibilities