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The first question a college coach will ask once they are sold on you as a player is, “Can they get into school academically?”
Before you will be able to accept an athletic scholarship, practice and compete you will need to register with the NCAA Eligibility Center and have your academic and amateur status verified. We will be going into depth about the NCAA Eligibility Center and their standards shortly, but understand that it is critical to plan academically and take your schoolwork seriously.
Admission requirements do vary greatly from school to school, even for athletes. You will have to meet standards within the Division (I, II, III) but possibly have to meet an even higher standard at particular schools. Just because you meet the Division I standards that doesn’t mean you will meet a particular school’s’ standards.
Many players may shoot to qualify academically for Division I but they may fall short of the Division II standards and not be eligible for those scholarships. It’s best to aim higher academically than to just meet the bottom standards, you may not get a Division I offer and then be stuck because you don’t qualify academically for Division II.
Since recruiting is such a time-consuming process for coaches and they are constantly evaluating so many players, if they know you aren’t even close to meeting the NCAA’s and University’s academic standards, they will likely drop you from their watch list and move on to the next player.
To most coaches, you aren’t worth their time if they know it will be an issue to get you into school academically. Coaches simply don’t have the time to battle for you, it’s a process of appeals and special considerations that takes months of attention. Just so you know, in several cases, coaches are also recruiting other players with your same talent who are on track to have the grades to easily qualify.
Academic advisors at many universities may request transcripts of prospective student-athletes from coaches in order to project or predict how recruits will finish high school academically or what deficiencies they will need to take care of while planning for their senior year. They may even have standards in place that can end your recruitment or put your official visit on hold if they don’t believe you will academically qualify.
Be sure to use the NCAA Eligibility Center code of 9999 when you register for the SAT or ACT to ensure that all of your scores are reported directly to the NCAA Eligibility Center from the testing agencies. Test scores that appear on transcripts will not be accepted!
It is also important to remember that the NCAA GPA (grade point average) is calculated using NCAA core courses only, be sure to look at your high school’s ‘List of NCAA Courses’ on the NCAA Eligibility Center’s website. These courses generally fall into the categories of math, science, English, social studies and foreign language. Only courses that appear on your school’s list will be used in the calculation of the core GPA!
In my experiences, players aren’t held back academically because of a lack of intelligence but rather a lack of effort. Don’t let this be you! Your school, the ACT/SAT and college coaches can work with you if you have learning disabilities, concentration problems or credit deficiencies but you must address these issues as soon as possible!