Eligibility Center (Knowledge Base)

October 7th, 2009

College Football Eligibility Information

FAQs about the NCAA Initial-Eligibility Clearinghouse

Student athletes must register with the NCAA Initial-Eligibility Clearinghouse to be eligible to play NCAA Division I or Division II sports in college. (Athletes playing in NCAA Division III do not have to register.)

What is the NCAA Initial-Eligibility Clearinghouse?

The NCAA Initial-Eligibility Clearinghouse is the organization that determines whether prospective college athletes are eligible to play sports at NCAA Division I or Division II institutions. It does this by reviewing the student athlete’s academic record, SAT or ACT scores, and amateur status to ensure conformity with NCAA rules.

What are NCAA Divisions I, II, and III?

The NCAA is the governing body of many intercollegiate sports. Each college and university regulated by the NCAA has established rules on eligibility, recruiting, and financial aid, and falls into one of the three membership divisions (Divisions I, II, and III). Divisions are based on school size and the scope of their athletic programs and scholarships.

When should students register with the clearinghouse?

The NCAA recommends that student athletes register with the clearinghouse at the beginning of their junior year in high school, but many students register after their junior year. There is no registration deadline, but students must be cleared by the clearinghouse before they receive athletic scholarships or compete at a Division I or Division II institution.

How do students register with the clearinghouse?

Students can register online at the NCAA Clearinghouse website. They will have to enter personal information, answer questions about their athletic participation, and pay a registration fee. The website will then prompt them to have their high school transcript and ACT or SAT scores sent to the clearinghouse.

Can students have the registration fee waived?

Students who have received a waiver for the SAT or ACT are eligible for a waiver of the clearinghouse registration fee. The student’s counselor must submit confirmation of the student’s test fee waiver. Go to the NCAA Clearinghouse’s High School Administration page for more information.

What records does the clearinghouse require?

Students should arrange to have you send their high school transcript to the clearinghouse as soon as they have completed at least six semesters of high school. The transcript must be mailed directly from their high school. They must also arrange to have their ACT or SAT test scores reported directly by the testing company to the clearinghouse. Students can arrange this when they register for the ACT or SAT.

You are responsible for sending in students’ final transcripts and proof of graduation at the end of their senior year.

How often can students update their athletics participation information?

Students can update the information on the athletics participation section online as often as they want (and should update it regularly), up to the time when they request a final certification of their status. At that point (usually three to four months before enrolling in college), students must finalize their information.

What are the NCAA academic eligibility requirements?

To play sports at an NCAA Division I or Division II institution, the student must:

  • Complete a certain number of high school core courses (defined below)
  • Earn a certain minimum grade point average in these core courses
  • Earn a certain minimum score on the SAT or ACT (for Division I, this is scaled according to the student’s core-course GPA)
  • Graduate from high school

For more information, see the NCAA’s Guide for the College-Bound Student-Athlete, available at the Publications section of the NCAA website.

What are core courses?

“Core courses” is the name that the NCAA gives to high school courses that meet certain academic criteria specified by the association. Students must complete a certain number of core courses for NCAA Division I and II eligibility.

How are high school courses classified as core courses?

All participating high schools submit lists of the courses that they offer that meet NCAA core-course criteria. If approved, the courses are added to a database that the NCAA Initial-Eligibility Clearinghouse maintains. You can check this database, or List of Approved Core Courses, to see whether your student athletes are enrolled in courses that will count toward NCAA eligibility.

It will most likely be your job as counselor to provide the NCAA with the list of your school’s core courses, and to update this list annually. The NCAA may ask for more information before approving a core course.

What are the NCAA amateurism eligibility requirements?

To play sports at an NCAA Division I or Division II institution, the student-athlete must follow NCAA amateurism rules as regards receiving a salary or prize money for athletic participation, playing with a professional team, and other areas. For more information, see the Guide for the College-Bound Student-Athlete linked above.

Keep in mind

The best way for students to prepare for a future in college athletics is to complete the approved core courses and earn appropriate grades in them. Indeed, more students fail to qualify to play NCAA sports because of lack of appropriate course work than for low test scores.

Make sure your athletes are enrolled in the courses on your high school’s core-course list, and also know the eligibility requirements on the NCAA Clearinghouse website. Then make sure your athletes are taking the necessary courses, earning the necessary grades, and doing anything else they must to stay on track for NCAA eligibility.