High School Athletes: Be informed about your eligibility status!

While serving as the Recruiting and Education Graduate Assistant at the University of Missouri Athletics Department during grad school, my main focus was making sure that all prospective student-athletes were on pace to qualify academically for both university admissions and for NCAA eligibility.

In that position, I encountered a wide variety of situations that included the need to reach out to high school counselors, high school coaches, and even the athlete and/or their parents.

The best overall advice that I can give each prospective student-athlete and his or her family is to be as proactive and informed about the recruiting process as you can be.

Here are some important tips to athletes going through the recruiting process:

  • If high school athlete intends to compete at the NCAA Div. I or II level, register with the NCAA Eligibility Center by AT THE LATEST the beginning of his/her senior year in high school.  Athletes can’t make an official visit to campus or receive an athletic scholarship agreement unless they are registered, and can’t compete at the NCAA Division I or II level unless they are certified as a Qualifier.
  • A high school athlete should know where they are at with their core class credit count, core GPA, and ACT and/or SAT sum score for NCAA Division I and II initial eligibility standards.
  • Be proactive and communicate with the school guidance counselor and/or athletic director on a routine basis with every semester grade update and new ACT test score.

Informed Athlete offers confidential personal consultations as you go through the recruiting process & start visiting schools.  We’ll talk about what you should look for in a school, what questions to ask, and things to consider.  Please call 913-766-1235 to set up an appointment to talk to Rick Allen.

 

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55 Responses to High School Athletes: Be informed about your eligibility status!

  • sue dobbs

    My daughter was a “recruited” walk-on for uva’s xc & track/field program in her senior of hs year in 2010-2011. She accepted in her hs senior year after turning down a couple of financial scholarship offers from other D-1 schools. Unforturnately, she got hurt – tore her hip labrum in spring 2011, and was not able to run in 1st year of college (2011-2012)b/c of the heal time for this invasive procedure. She did try to train with team in fall of 2011 but came back too soon, and got hurt w/in 3 weeks and stayed hurt and did not train with the team since then. New coach came in in spring 2012. She became substantially pain free in June 2012 after school let out and new coach gave her a written training regime for the summer, and told her she would have to try out for the team. Try-out occurred after school started, on Wed. 8/29/2012, and she got official email that she was cut on 8/30/2012. We believe that if she had had the try-out before school began and was told she could not be on the team, she would have been able to transfer and to run for another D-1 school, but now cannot pursue that until next semester. Our goal is to give her an opportunity to train with the team this semester so she can get the needed training and then, prove or disprove that she can make the times needed to compete. Is there a NCAA violation or an ethical argument we can raise to the athletic director, president, etc? Should she have had to try-out since she was an invited walk-on, and she had never really trained with or competed for the team? Your prompt response on this is greatly appreciated!

    • Hi Sue,

      I certainly understand your frustration, but I see no valid argument that you can make. There is no requirement that the coach provide a tryout opportunity, regardless of whether it was a new coach or a returning coach.

      If you’d like information on the transfer rules, and navigating the transfer process, contact me directly at rick@informedathlete.com.

      Good luck to your daughter.

      Rick

  • jeff

    My son will be playing college baseball next yr as a freshman. Can he sign with any level for example, juco, naia, div I, and div II? Then, select the best fit. Thanks

    • Hi Jeff,

      Your son could sign with a JUCO, with an NAIA school, and with either an NCAA Div. I or II school (but not with a Div. I and Div. II).

      Rick

  • My son plays baseball and is currently a senior in high school. He was contacted by a number of different colleges during his sophomore and junior years. Unfortunately, just before the season he had an injury that put him out for the whole season and the following summer. Since he has sort of been out of the lime light, fewer schools are contacting him. One school (D1) has offered him a preferred walk on spot and wants him to sign a letter of intent in November. I don’t see any upside for my son in signing in November. Any advice?

    • Marcel,

      Your son only needs to sign a Letter of Intent if the school is going to offer him an athletic scholarship during the early signing period. If he wasn’t able to play this past season or summer, then I would be patient and see what offers come his way this Spring when he is healthy and can show his ability on the field.

      Rick

  • stephanie

    hi, i am a international student from canada. in canada we are allowed to do a 5th year so that is grade 12×2… i did a 5th year at my high school and sign with a d1 school. but the ncaa cleared me with restrictions. they said i must complete 1 year academic residence at a d1 level before i can compete in track and field because i graduated a semester earlier than i was suppose to. so instead of graduating in spring/summer. i graduated in winter. So they said i took to long to enter into a post secondary school.. so basically it seems like i am being punished for academic excellence.. I do not know what to do. They wont give me any advice and everyone i spoke to about the situation is shocked and confused about their decision . I need help, because now i am not going to school and have no idea what to do. what are my options ?

    p.s i can not afford the international student fee without a scholarship and also the school i said the NHL with already appealed the case and lost. i know there has to be a loop hole.

    • Stephanie,

      I would contact NCAA Div. II schools or NAIA schools, as their rules are different than for NCAA Div. I schools. You might also check out http://www.playnaia.org, to see what you can learn about the eligibility process for NAIA schools.

      I don’t know what part of Cananda you live in, but you might want to check with Simon Fraser University as they are the first Canadian institution to be going through the process of joining NCAA Div. II. They may be the best school to answer some of your questions, even if you choose not to enroll there.

      Good luck!

      Rick

  • Jim

    My son is going to be a senior this upcoming year and has been offered a prefered walk on spot on a Div 1 school. The school has sent him committment papers to sign. Since there is no financial committment from the school would him signing this letter keep him from accepting another offer during the next signing period?

    Jim

    • Hi Jim,

      If your son is only a junior at this time, it’s too early to be signing a commitment of only a walk-on spot in my opinion.

      With that said, signing that letter doesn’t keep your son from accepting another offer should he receive one. Keep in mind, however, that should the coaches at this school hear that he is still entertaining other offers, it could cause them to withdraw their offer of a preferred walk-on spot, and potentially, they could spread the word among other coaches that your son doesn’t honor his commitment. It depends alot upon what you perceive as the integrity and ethics of this coaching staff. You’ll have to make that decision with your son.

      Rick

  • Claudia

    My son is a soccer play. He is a senior and has signed with a local jr college. He has an option of leaving on a two year mission in May before the first season , or in dec after the first season. We are curiouse how this may effect future eligibilty if he wants to play at a four year school.

    • Hi Claudia,

      As long as the mission is properly documented (an NCAA Div. I school will need to be able to document the dates that the mission began and ended), it won’t count against your son’s four years of eligibility or his Div. I “five-year clock.”

      Rick

  • mark

    My son wants to play D1 but we discovered that the level of most of his classes are non eligible for D1. Although the courses meet the core requirements – 4 years of English,math etc. The classes he takes are exactly the same as the qualifying courses and cover exactly the same material – the only difference is the speed that they go through the course material is a little slower. He attends one of the best high schools in the country with very rigorous courses and the school has very high academic standards.

    Is there any way to make a case with the NCAA to change the ruling?

    If not would he become eligible for D1 after attending college for a year and doing well in the courses and then applying to play a D1 sport and perhaps transfer to a D1 college. Even if he has to miss out playing for a year or two he would be prepared to do that to play at the d1 level.

    Many thanks

    • Hi Mark,

      If a Div. I school is interested in recruiting your son, they could possibly submit an initial eligibility waiver to the NCAA to seek an exception to the requirements. Another option is that he could attend a JUCO for a couple of years and then transfer to a Div. I school.

      Rick

      • mark

        Thanks for the advice Rick.

        Would it help if he went to a prep school and did a PG year to demonstrate his academic improvement and then try for d1? would that make him academically eligible?

        many thanks

        Mark

        • Hi Mark,

          That might work. If you haven’t done so already, you may want to research information on the NCAA Eligibility Center website (www.ncaaeligibilitycenter.org or .com), or you may want to search the NCAA website for their “Guide for the College-Bound Student-Athlete” to see what info they have about prep school affecting eligibility.

          Rick

  • mark

    Thanks Rick, I read the ‘guide” it stated that as a “non-qualifier, you will not be able to:
    • Practice or compete for your college or university during your FIRST year of college;
    • Receive an athletics scholarship during your FIRST year of college, although you may receive need-based financial aid.”

    So if I understand this correctly if my son has 3.0 GPA, 1100 on the SATs (math and verbal/critical reading) but most of his courses are denied for core course purposes he would be a ‘non qualifier” as per above so he would be able to practice and compete in his SECOND year of college at the D1 level.

    Many thanks for your help.

    • Mark,

      You will also want to check the rules of the conference for your son’s institution of choice. Some conferences have rules that prohibit them from accepting a NonQualifier.

      Rick

    • Hi Myles,

      There is not an age limit in NCAA Div. I football. However, in all Div. I sports, there is a “five-year clock” limit that begins with an athlete’s first semester of full-time enrollment at any college institution (even if that college doesn’t sponsor an athletic program).

      Rick

  • Steve

    Hi Rick,

    My son was D1 athlete in football. He attended university for 3 semesters and passed 36 credits. However, he did not pass the required 9 hours past fall as a true freshman. He has since left the university. If he transfers to a 1aa school, will he be eligible to play straight away or does the 27 credit hour rule still apply?

    Thanks

    • Steve,

      The basic 4-4 transfer rule is that the school the athlete is leaving (School A) must be able to state on a transfer questionnaire that the athlete would have been eligible the upcoming semester if the athlete was staying at School A, rather than transferring to School B. If School A can’t state this on the transfer questionnaire, then the athlete will have to serve a “year in residence” before being eligible for competition.

      Rick

  • Sara

    Rick,

    I will graduate from a D1 college in December and I will have only gone to school for 7 full-time semesters. If I did not participate in collegiate softball at that school and plan on pursuing another Bachelor’s degree at a D2 school starting next year, would I have any eligibility left? Also, would being redshirted help my case at all? I have no idea how that works.

    Thanks!

    • Sara,

      Based on the info you’ve provided, you could have at least one season of eligibility remaining at the Div. II level, and could possibly have two seasons, or at least a part of two seasons.

      Rick

  • Davon

    Question I’m confused about. I played JUCO football 2010-2011 my first year redshirted 2011-2012 season transfer to another school beginning of 2012 torn my mcl & lcl in the summer of 2012 so I couldnt play fall season of 2012-2013 I didnt sign any papers for my medical redshirt my coach knew about the injury I asked him about it this spring and he said we would sign papers and yesterday when I asked him about he said he will not grant me my year back because I didnt make his fall roster of 2012-2013 should I go to my athletic directors?

    • Davon,

      Yes, you should go to the athletic director at the school to request your medical redshirt.

      Rick

  • Juanita

    My daughter had a disatrous (all Ds) freshman year in HS (somewhat related to my getting divorced, us moving). She has worked hard since then and if all goes as expected, will graduate in June 2014 with a core 2.25GPA and has 1050 SATs (she may take them again). She is being recruited by several D1 schools for Golf. She is on the young side for her grade, having just turned 17. Her father and I think she might be able to better position herself with a post grad year at a very reputable boarding school (NOT one just for athletes). She has been approached by one. What do you think of kids taking a post-grad year? Thank you.

    • Juanita,

      I have no personal experience with post-grad schools. However, the reasons you are citing for considering that option appear to be very reasonable.

      Rick

  • Ryan

    Rick,
    I have a few D1 schools wanting me to walk on to the football team as a preferred walk on. Are preferred walk ons allowed to take official visits to the school?

  • James

    Hello, I am asking advice for a football eligibility issue. I played d1 for 3 years, sat out this past year (last spring and this fall) with no classes but have 1 year of eligibility left (this fall is my last season) how would I gain eligibility to play my last year.

    • James,

      If you weren’t enrolled in any classes the last two semesters, the question really becomes “were you eligible at the end of Fall 2012?” If the answer is yes, then you can be eligible at your school next Fall as long as you meet the academic requirements this Spring (and Summer if necessary).

      Rick

  • James

    I played my redshirt freshman year fall 2010, and my freshman year fall 2011, did not play fall 2012 but attended the same school, spring 2013 I withdrawaled from the D1 school, so I did not take any classes or attend school. I also didn’t attend school in fall 2013, my questions is if I took classes again in spring 2014 could I gain eligibility for fall 2014 my 5th year at a different school. I have taken 78 credits hours and have my AA degree

    • James,

      You should ask the compliance coordinator at your Div. I school, as they will be able to look at your transcript and tell you specifically what you need to do to be eligible.

      Rick

  • Scott

    My daughter is a HS freshman soccer player. She has scored the all of the winning goals for her high school varsity this year and looks to be progressing much faster than I thought. We have spoken to a few college coaches after games but would like more communications. I know there are limitations for her to speak with the coaches, but what about the parents forwarding her emails until she is old enough to do it without breaking any rules.

    • Scott,

      Hopefully, the coaches that you’ve spoken to after games aren’t coaches at NCAA Div. I or II schools, as they’re not permitted to have face-to-face contact with her (or her parents) yet unless it occurs on their campus. As far as your question about e-mails, that’s also not permissible, because the rules apply to the parents in the same way that they do for the student-athlete.

      If you’d like to have a phone conversation about the recruiting rules, feel free to contact me directly. Since she is a freshman and will be making campus visits during her recruiting process, you may also be interested in our “Informed Athlete’s Guide to Campus Visits” which can be found in the Store of our website. Here’s a link to the Guide to Campus Visits:

      http://www.informedathlete.com/informed-athletes-guide-to-campus-visits?cid=187

      Rick

    • Scott,

      Hopefully, the coaches that you’ve spoken to after games aren’t coaches at NCAA Div. I or II schools, as they’re not permitted to have face-to-face contact with her (or her parents) yet unless it occurs on their campus. As far as your question about e-mails, that’s also not permissible, because the rules apply to the parents in the same way that they do for the student-athlete.

      If you’d like to have a phone conversation about the recruiting rules, feel free to contact me directly. Since she is a freshman and will be making campus visits during her recruiting process, you may also be interested in our “Informed Athlete’s Guide to Campus Visits” which can be found in the Store of our website. Here’s a link to the Guide to Campus Visits:

      http://www.informedathlete.com/informed-athletes-guide-to-campus-visits?cid=187

      Rick

  • Kristen

    My son has verbally accepted a scholarship and committed to a Division 1 college. My question/concern is this: We paid for my son to have personal training at a fitness center in the fall. Due to finances we stopped. The trainer has offered to do them for free in hopes that this will attract other athletes in the community to join his fitness center if they see/know my son goes there. Is this a violation of any NCAA rules?

    • Kristen,

      It could be a violation if the trainer publicizes the fact that he trains your son, or if he uses your son’s name in any of his advertising or promotional material.

      Rick

  • Dad

    How can my son attend college without starting the 5-year clock or losing any eligibility? He has not registered with the NCAA clearinghouse but if he did, he would be a qualifier (3.5 academic gpa and 1800 SAT). He is being recruited but the schools he wants to attend have told him it would help him if he had another year to mature physically. Can he be a part-time college student somewhere for a year? Thank you.

    • Dad,

      As long as your son doesn’t attend any college institution while enrolled as a full-time student, he can delay the start of his five-year clock, and his four seasons of eligibility. He will not be able to practice with a college team, however, if he’s not enrolled as a full-time student. So, he can delay the start of his five-year clock, but will need to work out on his own to get bigger and stronger, and not as part of a team.

      His other option is that he could attend a prep school for a semester or two before beginning full-time college enrollment.

      Rick

  • Dad

    Thanks, Rick. What is the maximum number of units he can take per term and not be considered to be a full-time student?

    • Dad,

      This can vary from one school to another. You’ll need to talk to the school directly. In most cases, 12 credit hours per semester is considered full-time, but again, it can vary from school to school.

      Rick

  • Dad

    Thanks again, Rick. Would it affect my son’s years of eligibility if he played on a college club team or played in a non-college baseball league (that did not have any paid baseball players in it)?

  • confused mom

    My son is a current senior and has signed a division 1 basketball scholarship. Does he have any restrictions during the rest of his senior year and the summer before college on what tournaments or leagues he can play in? I know he can’t play for any cash prizes but are there any other restrictions that can jeopardize his eligibility?

    • Confused,

      There are limitations on all-star games, summer leagues, and tournaments. Talk to the compliance office of the school that your son signed with about those limitations.

      Rick

  • basketball mom

    My son just left on a religious mission and will be gone for 2 years. He signed a D1 basketball scholarship before he left. I am reading about this 1 year grace period where kids can play in organized competition without jeopardizing their eligibility. Does this mean he can play in church leagues in the first year of his mission but not the second year? Am I interpreting this right?

    • B-ball Mom,

      Because of the overlap between these rules regarding the religious mission, and the post-high school “grace period”, you should check with the compliance office of the school that your son signed with. You may also want to ask what might happen if the coach that he wants to play for isn’t at the school when he returns from the mission in two years.

      Rick

  • Shelley

    My D1 signed senior son has been asked to play in an AAU tournament in a few weeks. It is not an ncaa tournament. Is it ok for him to play? We always hear about unsigned seniors playing in the spring so always assumed signed seniors couldn’t play. Tournament director says he doesn’t care. Are we breaking any rules? Can he play in rec leagues also in the spring and summer?

    • Shelley,

      It is best if you check with the compliance coordinator at the school that your son signed with.

      Rick

  • Mike

    My senior son has signed a d1 basketball scholarship. He has been invited to play in a spring basketball tourney that is not ncaa certified and is not during the viewing period. His college coach said he thought it was ok but compliance wouldn’t give a written either way. The team who wants my son to play with has sponsors, and wants to pay for part of his airplane ticket to go to this spring tournament. The tournament is providing free hotels and transportation to this team (but I get the impression other teams coming may be paying for their own hotels). Are we safe taking part of an airplane ticket, free hotels for the entire team, and even playing?

    • Mike,

      If the compliance office of the school your son signed with can’t provide him with an e-mail from the NCAA staff, or their conference office, giving this activity an “OK”, then I would recommend that he not participate.

      Rick

  • Ryan

    Rick,
    I went to a JUCO for my first semester and played a season of football there. In January, I transferred to a D1A school. I did not take a visit to the D1A school and the only time the D1A school initiated contact with me was to tell me they could bring me in as a walk on. I went through the off-season workouts and spring ball. I am now looking to transfer from the D1A to another D1A. Am I considered a non-recruited athlete and will I be immediately eligible? Also, does me getting a permission to contact form affect the non-recruited athlete status?

    • Ryan,

      You can be immediately eligible at another Div. I as long as the current Div. I can state that you would be eligible if you were returning there this Fall.

      Rick

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