Founded more than one hundred years ago as a way to protect student-athletes, the NCAA continues to implement that principle with increased emphasis on both athletics and academic excellence. The NCAA membership creates rules in three separate divisions that determine an individual’s eligibility to participate in intercollegiate athletics. Prospective student-athletes must meet minimum academic standards and amateurism criteria in to play college sports. The NCAA Eligibility Center administers the process for prospects seeking initial eligibility. NCAA membership committees composed of faculty members, administrators and other higher education professionals create and apply eligibility standards.
The initial-eligibility standards for NCAA Division 1 college-bound student-athletes are changing. College-bound student-athletes first entering a Division 1 college or university on or after August 1, 2015, 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.
Nonqualifier is a college-bound student-athlete who fails to meet the standards for a qualifier or for an academic redshirt.
New Rules and Sliding Scales Q&A
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.