Recruit Me Monday - Academic Requirements

For the high school athlete looking to play at the collegiate level, the recruiting process can be one of the most exciting times of their life. It can also become one of the most confusing and difficult processes for parents and players if they are unaware and unprepared for everything the process entails. Every Monday we will be posting a news story with information covering the recruiting process and what to expect and prepare for. We will cover the following areas: Eligibility/Academics, Important dates for prospects and college coaches, D1 scholarships, Financial Aide outside of athletic scholarships, communications with college coaches, and college visits. 

Before we get started, here is a list of need-to-know terminology for the D1 and D2 initial eligibility.

Amateurism Eligibility: In order to play Division I sports you must be certified by the NCAA Eligibility Center as an amateur student-athlete.

Core Course: A high school academic course in one or a combination of these areas: English, math, natural/physical science, social science, foreign language, comparative religion or philosophy.

Core GPA: Grade point average in core courses only.

Initial Eligibility Index (aka “sliding scale”): Core GPA plus test score (SAT or ACT) scale that determines initial eligibility.  Core GPA goes up test score requirement goes down and vice versa.  Requirements are have changed for 2016 high school graduates.

NCAA Eligibility Center: Certifies the academic and amateur credentials of all college-bound student-athletes who wish to compete in NCAA Division I or II athletics.

Non-Qualifier:  Not eligible to practice and compete in your first year of college. Cannot receive an athletics scholarship.

Qualifier: Eligible to practice and compete at an NCAA Division I school during your first year of college.  Can receive an athletics scholarship.

In order to become an NCAA Qualifier at the NCAA Division I or II level (be on an athletics scholarship, practice and compete in your first year) you must meet the following requirements:

- Graduate from High School

- Complete 16 core courses

- Earn a minimum grade-point average (GPA) in the 16 core course

- Earn a combined SAT or ACT sum score that lines up with your core GPA on the sliding scale

- Be admitted to the college you’re attending

Graduating from high school is pretty self-explanatory, so let’s get started with the second requirement;

Completing the 16 core courses

These courses include:

- 4 years of English

- 3 years of math (Algebra I or higher)

- 2 years of natural or physical science (must include one year of lab science if your high school offers such courses)

- 4 years of extra core courses (from the group above or foreign language, comparative religion or philosophy)

Earn a minimum grade-point average in the 16 core courses

The NCAA works off of a 4-point scale when it comes to determining core GPA (4.0 = A, 3.0 = B, etc.). If your high school uses a method other than this the Eligibility Center will convert each grade into a score based on the 4-point scale.

Only courses deemed core courses per your high school 48H form count toward this grade point average – courses like physical education, art, health and similar "non-academic" courses do not count. Therefore, its quite possible to have a 3.50 high school GPA and a 2.80 core GPA, for example. This is the NCAA's attempt to standardize their evaluation of high school coursework across the country clearly emphasizing the classes that best gauge your potential to be a successful college student.

If you take more than 16 core courses you can use the highest grades in the each category to figure your core GPA. A core course represents a year-long course with a semester of a course representing 0.5 of a core course – you can also juggle these classes by the semester (0.5 core course) if you have more than 16 core courses.

Earn a combined SAT or ACT sum score that lines up with your core GPA on the sliding scale

The NCAA uses a sliding scale where you match up your core GPA with your best test score to determine if you are a Qualifier at the Division I level (and Division II which we will cover in a future newsletter). On the sliding scale as your core GPA goes up, the acceptable test score goes down and vice versa. Therefore, if you achieve at a high level in the classroom (core GPA) but are a poor test taker you are not over-penalized. The same is true for someone who doesn't fare well in the classroom but is bright enough to achieve a good test score. To see the sliding scale, click here to be directed to a .pdf file called the NCAA Eligibility Center Quick Reference Guide.

In terms of the test scores the NCAA looks at the "Combined SAT" score which is your best Math score + your best Verbal/Critical Reading score – the writing part is not part of the equation. "Best" score means that if you take the SAT twice (or more times) you can pick your highest Math score and combine it with your highest Verbal/Critical Reading score to come up with your best combined SAT score for use on the sliding scale. This scale also uses the Sum ACT score, which involves adding the 4 parts of the ACT together. Once again, if you take the ACT multiple times you can pick your top score from each part to come up with your best Sum ACT score.

Be admitted to the college you are attending

Remember these are NCAA minimum standards to compete at the NCAA Division I level, it goes without saying that you must also meet the admissions requirements of the college you are attending in order to enroll in classes there. Some colleges offer certain waivers of these set admissions requirements – information that can only be gained by discussing with a representative from the particular college in question. Regardless of any waivers offered by colleges you must be deemed an NCAA Qualifier in order to compete right away at an NCAA Division I school.

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