Know The ABCs of Playing College Soccer

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In this edition, we turn our attention to freshman eligibility requirements and examine what is needed to compete and/or receive athletic aid during the first year of college. The requirements for NCAA I, NCAA II and NAIA institutions differ, so we will look at each one in turn.

NCAA I FRESHMAN ELIGIBILITY

To play Division I sports, you need to qualify academically and be certified as an amateur.

To meet the minimum requirements for Division I, student-athletes enrolling in college after August 2016 must:

  • Graduate from high school
  • Complete 16 Core Courses, including 10 before your seventh semester
  • Earn a minimum 2.300 grade-point average in core courses to compete in your first year of college
  • Earn a combined SAT or ACT score that matches your core-course GPA on the sliding scale
  • Receive Amateur Certification

Core Courses

NCAA member schools require incoming student-athletes to build a foundation of high school courses that will best prepare them for the academic expectations in college.

  • To play Division I sports, you must earn 16 core courses.
  • Ten of them must be completed prior to the seventh semester. Those ten courses are “locked in” and can’t be retaken to improve the grade-point average.
  • Seven of those 10 must be a combination of English, math or natural or physical science that fulfills the overall distribution requirements listed below.
  • If you don’t earn 10 courses before your seventh semester, you may still be eligible to practice and receive a scholarship, but you can’t compete during the first year.
  • For a complete list of your high school’s NCAA core courses, visit https://web3.ncaa.org/hsportal/exec/homeAction and click on “list of NCAA courses”

Division I Core Course Requirements

  • 4 years of English.
  • 3 years of mathematics (Algebra I or higher).
  • 2 years of natural/physical science (1 year of lab if offered by high school).
  • 1 year of additional English, mathematics or natural/physical science.
  • 2 years of social science.
  • 4 years of additional courses (from any area above, foreign language or comparative religion/philosophy)

Grade Point-Average

Incoming student-athletes must present a grade-point average that predicts academic success at the collegiate level.

  • Beginning August 1, 2016, you must earn at least a 2.300 GPA in NCAA core courses to be eligible to compete in your first year of college.
  • To get a scholarship and practice but NOT compete, you must earn at least a 2.000 GPA in NCAA core courses.
  • Only courses that appear on your high school’s list of NCAA courses will be used to calculate your GPA for NCAA eligibility purposes.
  • Once 10 core courses are “locked in” prior to the start of your seventh semester, you can’t take those classes over again to improve your GPA.
  • Division I uses a sliding scale to match test scores and core GPAs. The NCAA Division I sliding scale can be found here: fs.ncaa.org/Docs/eligibility_center/Quick_Reference_Sheet.pdf

Test Scores

Data show that while GPA is a better predictor of collegiate success than test scores, using the two in combination is the best method. The NCAA continues to emphasize GPA over test scores when assessing college preparedness.

  • Division I uses a sliding scale to match test scores and core-course grade point averages to determine eligibility.
  • The NCAA uses only the critical reading and math SAT scores to determine eligibility. The writing score is not used.
  • The NCAA uses only the sum of English, math, reading, and science ACT scores to determine eligibility.

NCAA II FRESHMAN ELIGIBILITY

NCAA II Core Course Requirements

To play NCAA II sports you must complete 16 core courses:

  • 3 years of English.
  • 2 years of mathematics (Algebra I or higher).
  • 2 years of natural/physical science (1 year of lab if offered by high school).
  • 3 years of additional English, mathematics or natural/physical science.
  • 2 years of social science.
  • 4 years of additional courses (from any area above, foreign language or comparative religion/philosophy).

The NCAA II core course GPA requirement is a minimum of 2.000

NCAA II TEST Score Requirement

NCAA II requires a minimum SAT score of 820 or an ACT sum score of 68.

  • The SAT score used for NCAA purposes includes only the critical reading and math sections. The writing section of the SAT is not used.
  • The ACT score used for NCAA purposes is a sum of the following four sections: English, mathematics, reading and science.

When you register for the SAT or ACT, use the NCAA Eligibility Center code of 9999 to ensure all SAT and ACT scores are reported directly to the NCAA Eligibility Center from the testing agency. Test scores that appear on transcripts will not be used.

NCAA II eligibility requirements are changing in 2018.

After August 1, 2018, students will be required to earn a minimum 2.2 core course GPA and have a SAT combined score or ACT sum score that matches core-course GPA on the new Division II sliding scale.

The 2018 sliding scale balances 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.

NAIA FRESHMAN ELIGIBILITY

To be eligible for competition, a freshman must:

  • Graduate from an accredited high school or be accepted as a regular student in good standing.
  • AND meet two of three requirements:
    • Test Score* (tests taken prior to March 2016)
      Minimum score of:
      ACT — 18
      SAT — 860 (Critical Reading and Math Sections only)
    • High School GPA
      Minimum overall high school GPA of 2.000 on 4.000 scale
    • Class Rank
      Top 50% of high school graduating class

* Following the introduction of the revised SAT in 2016, interim standards are currently in place that allow satisfactory scores of ACT 16 and SAT 860 for tests taken after March 2016, to be in effect until further legislation is passed.

IMPORTANT DATES

If you are entering the spring semester of your sophomore year or later and intend to enroll at an NCAA I or II institution, register at the NCAA Eligibility Center this semester. The NCAA Eligibility Center examines core-course GPA, standardized test scores, and amateur status to determine eligibility status.

  • Register with the NCAA Eligibility Center at:
    https://web3.ncaa.org/ecwr3/
    The registration fee is $80 for domestic students.
  • Those who have registered with the NCAA Eligibility Center and are in their senior year of high school may request Final Amateurism Certification from April 1.
  • If you intend to enroll at an NCAA I or II institution you must present a standardized test score. Upcoming ACT test dates are April 8 and June 10, 2017. Register for the ACT test at www.act.org
  • Upcoming SAT test dates are May 6 and June 3, 2017. Register for the SAT at www.collegeboard.org
  • From June 15 preceding the junior year of high school, prospects who have registered with the NCAA Eligibility Center may take official visits to NCAA II institutions.

Useful Links

2016-17 Guide for the college-bound student athlete
http://www.ncaapublications.com/productdownloads/CBSA17.pdf

2.3 or take a knee

http://www.ncaa.org/static/2point3/

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About Author

Rob King

Rob King is a 26-year veteran college head coach, who won national championships at both Kennesaw State Univ. (NCAA II women’s soccer, 2003) and Martin Methodist College (NSCAA men’s soccer, 1993). His company, College Soccer Guru, helps prospective student athletes become college soccer players. CollegeSoccerGuru.com | Info@CollegeSoccerGuru.com | 678-948-7809

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