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September 2, 2021

Recruiting Must-Do’s: Division I Academic Requirements & Eligibility

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The estimated probability of competing in college football is 2.8. If you want to compete at the collegiate level, it’s safe to say that you need to have a plan. Never give up, stay consistent, and train harder than the rest, and you will have a chance to play football in college. The key is to remain open to all the different divisions. Below are the necessary steps that you need to be taking for the football recruiting process.

The first step in your football recruiting path if you want to play at a DI school is to register with the NCAA Eligibility Center. This will help you stay on track to meet the eligibility standards.

If you have questions or concerns about your eligibility or the registration process, call the NCAA toll-free at 1-877-262-1492. All International students should call 317-917-6222.

Sources: High school figures from the 2017-18 High School Athletics Participation Survey conducted by the National Federation of State High School Associations (data from club teams not included). College numbers from the NCAA 2017-18 Sports Sponsorship and Participation Rates Report.

Grade 9

  • You will need to ask your high school counselor for a list of the NCAA core courses.

Grade 10

Grade 11

  • Sit down with your academic counselor and make sure you are on track to graduate on time with the correct number of NCAA core courses.
  • This is the year that you will need to take the ACT or SAT. Be prepared and take practice tests. You will then submit your scores to the NCAA using code 9999.
  • As the year is coming to an end, you will have your counselor upload your official transcript to the NCAA Eligibility Center. Call to confirm they received it.

Grade 12

  • You will be finishing up with your NCAA core courses.
  • If your ACT or SAT scores are not aligned with what the schools are looking for, then retake them. You will then submit your scores to the NCAA using code 9999.
  • It is now time for you to complete all academic and amateurism questions at the eligibility center, which is on the NCAA site.
  • After you graduate, speak with your counselor and ask them to submit your final official transcript. You will also have to send your proof of graduation. Both will go to the NCAA Eligibility Center.

Division I academic eligibility

You have to meet all of the following NCAA academic requirements to compete in NCAA sports.

  • Complete the 16 core courses:
    • Four years of English
    • Three years of math (Algebra 1 or higher)
    • Two years of natural/physical science are a must (including one year of lab science)
    • One additional year of either 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
  • The ten core courses that need to be completed include seven in English, math, or natural/physical science, before your seventh semester. Once you start your seventh semester, you may not repeat or replace any of those ten courses to improve your core-course GPA.
  • You will need to earn at least a 2.3 GPA in your core courses.
  • Lastly, you will need to earn an SAT combined score or ACT sum score, which has to match your core-course GPA on the Division I sliding scale. This will balance your test score and core-course GPA. If you end up with a low test score, then you will need a higher core-course GPA to be eligible. If you have a low core-course GPA, then you will need a higher test score.

What if I don’t meet the NCAA academic requirements?

Unfortunately, if you did not meet all the DI academic requirements, you cannot compete your freshman year. But all might not be lost; you might be able to qualify as an academic redshirt. This means you may practice with the team during your first term in college and receive an athletic scholarship for the entire year.

Academic redshirts must graduate high school and meet all of the following academic 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
  • You will need to work on earning at least a 2.0 GPA in your core courses.
  • You will need to earn an SAT combined score or ACT sum score matching your core-course GPA on the DI sliding scale.

Stay calm and have a backup plan if you do not meet the DI academic requirements:

  • You should contact the admissions or compliance office at the college you are looking to attend. Discuss your concerns.
  • Look into getting a tutor or academic help.
  • You will need to graduate on time. The DI schools will allow athletes who graduate on-time to take one core course during the year after they graduate high school.
  • Keep your coursework. You might need to show it to the NCAA Eligibility Center if they need to review it.

YOUR JOURNEY STARTS HERE