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NCAA Eligibility

College-bound student-athletes preparing to enrol in a DI or DII school need to register with the NCAA Eligibility Center to ensure they meet amateurism standards and are academically prepared for college.

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Key Takeaways

    • Student-athletes have to keep up with academic, athletic and NCAA eligibility requirements
    • Recent rule changes allow student-athletes to benefit from their name and likeness
    • The NCAA timeline starts after high-school graduation and determines eligibility

NCAA requirements for Student-Athletes

The NCAA, or National Collegiate Athletic Association, is a governing body for college sports in the United States. In order to participate in NCAA-sports at the Division I or Division II level, student-athletes must meet certain academic and amateurism requirements, known as NCAA eligibility. 

The requirements for NCAA eligibility include:

    • Graduating from high school.
    • Completing a high school core courses in subjects, such as English, math, and science.
    • Earning a minimum grade point average in those core courses.
    • Achieving a qualifying score on either the SAT or ACT college entrance exams.
    • Registering with the NCAA Eligibility Center, which will verify the student’s academic record and amateur status.

Track your eligibility: The BEST way to ensure you are on track to be eligible for collegiate athletics, is to meet with your high school guidance counselor. High schools can have varying core curriculums, so it’s important to meet in your sophomore or junior year to make sure you have passed, or are on track to pass all of the required core courses.

1) NCAA Academic Requirements

Different from the academic requirements to get admitted to a university, the NCAA has certain academic requirements to be considered eligible to compete in college.

Below is an overview of the academic requirements necessary. However, there are many requirements regarding completion of certain core classes throughout highschool, you can use this brochure to see the different types of classes you will need to complete.


 Core Course Requirements You are required to pass 16 core courses throughout high school. While there is slight variation between DI and DII requirements, if you meet the DI requirements you will also be eligible for DII.
 Core Course GPA The NCAA does not use your overall GPA, but rather a GPA from selected core courses. It is recommended you meet with your high school guidance counselor to go over your ‘core courses’ GPA.
 NCAA Sliding Scale The NCAA uses a sliding scale to determine your eligibility, so you would need a certain minimum test score to accompany your gpa. This is an important element to discuss with your high school guidance counselor.

NCAA Update 2023 – Standardized Test Scores: In January 2023, NCAA Divisions I and II adopted legislation to remove standardized test scores from initial-eligibility requirements for all student-athletes who initially enroll full time on or after August 1, 2023. Check with the NCAA school you plan to attend regarding whether standardized test scores are necessary for admission or scholarship requirements. For more information, click here.

2) NCAA Amateurism Requirements

Essentially, amateurism rules are in place to prevent collegiate athletes from receiving payment for their athletic talents.

  • Not allowed to have received prize money (beyond that of reimbursement for participation)
  • Not allowed to have signed a contract with and/or received benefits from an agent
  • Not allowed to have received money for promotion of products and services

2.1) Rule changes around Names, Images & Likenesses (NIL)

The NCAA has recently made changes to its rules regarding the use of student-athletes’ names, images, and likenesses (NIL). Prior to these changes, the NCAA had strict rules prohibiting student-athletes from being paid for the use of their NIL.

Students can now benefit from their NIL: However, in recent years, there has been increased pressure on the NCAA to allow student-athletes to profit from their NIL, as well as increased recognition of the value that these student-athletes bring to college sports. In response, the NCAA has taken steps to allow student-athletes to receive compensation for their NIL, while still maintaining some restrictions to ensure that college sports remains amateur in nature.

Common Changes: The exact nature of these changes and their implementation has varied between the different divisions of the NCAA, but some common changes include:

    • Allowing student-athletes to receive compensation for the use of their NIL through endorsement deals, sponsorships, and other commercial arrangements.
    • Allowing student-athletes to hire agents to represent them in NIL negotiations.
    • Prohibiting schools and conferences from directly compensating student-athletes for the use of their NIL.
    • Prohibiting student-athletes from receiving compensation for NIL that is based on their athletic performance or reputation.

These changes represent a major shift in the NCAA’s approach to NIL and college sports, and their impact is still being felt and evaluated. The NCAA will likely continue to make adjustments to its rules and regulations in this area as the industry evolves and new challenges emerge.

3) NCAA Eligibility Timeline

3.1) Division I: Five Year Clock

In playing at a Division I school, you have 5 calendar years in which to play 4 seasons of competition. Your clock will begin as soon as you enroll as a full-time student, and thus your clock continues even if you do not attend school, go to part-time, or redshirt.

3.2) Division II: 10-Semester, 15-Quarter Clock

In playing at a Division II or Division III school, you have the first 10 semesters or 15 quarters in which you are enrolled as a full time student to complete your 4 seasons of competition. You use up a semester or quarter any time you attend class as a full-time student or are enrolled part-time and compete in competition for the school. Different from Division I, you do not use up a term if you only attend part-time with no competition or are not enrolled for a term.

3.3) Division I: Progress Toward Degree

In Division I of the NCAA, student-athletes are required to make steady progress toward their degree in order to maintain their eligibility to participate in intercollegiate athletics. These requirements, known as “progress-toward-degree requirements,” are intended to ensure that student-athletes are on track to earn their degree within a reasonable amount of time.

The specific requirements for progress toward degree in Division I can vary depending on the institution, but typically include the following:

1. Completion of a certain number of credit hours each academic year, which can vary depending on the sport and the individual student-athlete’s situation.

2. A minimum grade point average (GPA) each academic year, which is typically based on a certain number of credit hours.

3. Completion of a certain number of credit hours in specific academic subjects, known as “degree-applicable hours.”

4. Demonstration of progress toward completing the required credit hours for a degree, which may be determined by the institution based on its own policies and procedures.

It’s important for student-athletes to understand and stay aware of their progress-toward-degree requirements, as failure to meet these requirements can result in the loss of eligibility to participate in intercollegiate athletics.

Colleges will ensure that athletes keep their eligibility: The NCAA provides guidance and resources to help student-athletes and institutions understand and meet these requirements, and it is ultimately up to the institution to monitor and enforce the progress-toward-degree requirements for its student-athletes.

That means, once you are a student-athlete, your university will have a compliance department that’s job is to ensure athletes are eligible. They will be in contact with you and your coach if at any point your grades and/or progress towards a degree is not meeting the eligibility benchmarks.

Athletic Requirements
Athletic Requirements

Athletic requirements for college athletes vary depending on the college, the sport, and the governing body of college sports, such as the NCAA or NAIA. However, here are some common requirements that most college athletes must meet.

Redshirts & Eligibility
Redshirts & Eligibility

Redshirts in college sports allow student-athletes to participate in practice and training with a college team, but without competing in official games or contests during a given season. This allows them to improve without loosing a year of eligibility.

Requirements for Internationals
Requirements for Internationals

There are additional requirements for international students, such as language proficiency tests, if you are from a non-english speaking country and more.