The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) was founded more than one hundred years ago to protect student athletes and to ensure that equitable standards are met. As most of you know, NCAA has three classifications: Divisions I, II and III. Each division has its own regulations that have been put in place to govern a wide range of subjects, including recruiting, eligibility, amateur status, benefits and financial aid.
The NCAA website has a comprehensive overview of all three divisions and their regulations and is a trusted resource for student athletes.http://www.ncaa.org/
There are a cluster of links on the NCAA site that are important aids in helping you understand NCAA regulations related to academics. The main link to the NCAA section on eligibility is http://www.ncaa.org/wps/wcm/connect/public/NCAA/Eligibility/index.html. There are additional links on that page that address both "becoming eligible" and "remaining eligible."
If you are an athlete who is hoping to compete and possibly receive athletically-related financial aid during you first year at a Division I or Division II college, there are specific academic standards that you need to meet and have verified by the NCAA Eligibility Center. For instance, in addition to graduating from high school, you will need to have completed a certain number of core courses and earn a minimum grade-point average in each of these courses. You are also required to earn a minimum ACT or SAT score. For a more detailed look into the academic requirements, visit the Eligibility Center at:http://web1.ncaa.org/ECWR2/NCAA_EMS/NCAA.jsp
You may also want to review a chart that outlines the most recent academic rules: http://www.ncaa.org/wps/wcm/connect/public/NCAA/Eligibility/Becoming+Eligible/Initial-Eligibility+Standards.
If you are interested in a Division III college or universities, please be advised that Division III colleges have different sets of admission standards, and the NCAA is not involved in their eligibility requirements.
To qualify as a student athlete at a NCAA member school, you must also be "certified" as an amateur student athlete by securing a final "amateurism certification" from the Eligibility Center. All college-bound students need to fulfill the amateurism requirements (even if they are applying as international students). If you are interested in a Division I or Division II college or university, you can find information about the specific amateurism requirements at the following link:http://www.ncaa.org/wps/wcm/connect/public/ncaa/eligibility/becoming+eligible/amateurism
Approximately 180,000 students register to receive amateur certification. A large majority of these students successfully receive certification. Only about 600 college-bound student athletes do not meet the standards. Begin the process of certification by registering at the Eligibility Center at the beginning of your junior year in high school and completing an online questionnaire.http://www.eligibilitycenter.org
Coaches are also required to adhere to NCAA regulations. The NCAA has developed policies about how coaches are allowed to recruit student-athletes. These rules vary among the different sports and address subjects like when and how a coach can get in touch with a prospective student athlete.
It is important for you to understand the National Letter of Intent program (NLI), which is managed by the Eligibility Center. The program has over 600 Division I and Division II participating member institutions.
The NLI is a basically a contract between NLI member school and a student athlete prospect. The agreement is binding and means that the student athlete has agreed to attend the college or university full-time for one academic year, and the institution has agreed to provide financial for that period. Since the NLI is a legal document, you should read the NLI very carefully before signing.
You can find more information about the National Letter of Intent program at:http://www.ncaa.org/wps/wcm/connect/nli/nli.
Another helpful link is:http://www.ncaa.org/wps/wcm/connect/public/NCAA/Eligibility/Becoming+Eligible/Recruiting. It leads you to the NCAA "recruiting" page. There are FAQs related to recruiting.
A recruitment calendar showing when the recruiting is in season for different sports can be found at:http://www.ncaa.org/wps/wcm/connect/public/ncaa/resources/recruiting+calendars/2012-2013+recruiting+calendars.
The NCAA does not award athletic scholarships. However, participating colleges and universities often award financial aid to athletes on a one-year basis. These awards can be renewed annually up to five times in a six-year period of a student's continuous, full-time attendance. The award can be made in various amounts and may range from a comprehensive version that includes tuition, room, board and books to much smaller awards. Some statistics indicate that only about 2% of students graduating from high school receive athletic scholarships. Still, NCAA Division I and Division II members have awarded approximately $1.5 billion in athletics scholarships annually. Division III members only award academic scholarships.
What Happens if You Decide to Transfer?
If you are a Division I student athlete who is considering transferring to another four-year educational institution, there are eligibility rules that must be followed. For instance: if you are currently in a two-year college and are transferring to a four-year college, you will have to have your academic and athletic status verified just like incoming freshmen.
If you are transferring from a four-year college to another four-year college, you'll need a "permission to contact" letter from your current athletic director to the new school's coach.
There are other restrictions that you should consider. Use the following link to find the most recent NCAA publication related to transfers.http://www.ncaapublications.com/
There is a lot of information about NCAA regulations. It's a lot to absorb. Some students find that the following video link is a very helpful tool to help them understand the process.http://s3.amazonaws.com/ncaa/web_video/enforcement/bb_cert.html
Since rules are subject to change, it's always smart to review the NCAA site regularly through your high school and college years.