The Student-Athlete Playbook

I love March Madness. I can’t get enough of the thrills, but even more, it’s the energy of the kids on the court and in the stands that make me smile. Now that the men’s tournament is upon us, I am absolutely ecstatic.  There’s nothing like this time of year.

Naturally, I use sports as a way to connect with many students. Part ice-breaker — if they’re interested — and more of a way to keep them engaged and not make our working relationship solely with college applications. And knowing that I’m a huge sports fan, many students (and parents) ask me What are the Admissions Requirements of a Student-Athlete?   

So many ways to answer that question depending on the skill level and desired level of involvement.  The process can begin as early as the 9th grade, so I will give you the basics and we can continue the conversation at later date. Here you go!

If you want to compete in NCAA sports at a Division I school, you need to register with the NCAA Eligibility Center to make sure you stay on track to meet initial-eligibility standards.

Grade 9

  • Ask your counselor for a list of your high school’s NCAA core courses to make sure you take the right classes.

Grade 10

Grade 11

  • Check with your counselor to make sure you will graduate on time with the required number of NCAA core courses.
  • Take the ACT or SAT and submit your scores to the NCAA using code 9999.
  • At the end of the year, ask your counselor to upload your official transcript to the NCAA Eligibility Center.

Grade 12


Division I academic eligibility

To be eligible to compete in NCAA sports during your first year at a Division I school, you must graduate high school and meet ALL the following requirements:

  • Complete 16 core courses:
    • Four years of English
    • Three years of math (Algebra 1 or higher)
    • Two years of natural/physical science (including one year of lab science if your high school offers it)
    • One additional year of English, math or natural/physical science
    • Two years of social science
    • Four additional years of English, math, natural/physical science, social science, foreign language, comparative religion or philosophy
  • Complete 10 core courses, including seven in English, math or natural/physical science, before your seventh semester. Once you begin your seventh semester, you may not repeat or replace any of those 10 courses to improve your core-course GPA.
  • Earn at least a 2.3 GPA in your core courses.
  • Earn an SAT combined score or ACT sum score matching your core-course GPA on the Division I sliding scale, which balances your test score and core-course GPA. If you have a low test score, you need a higher core-course GPA to be eligible. If you have a low core-course GPA, you need a higher test score to be eligible.

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