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Certain academic requirements must be met if an incoming freshman is to be eligible to participate in sports as a freshman. The critical thing to remember is that if you dig yourself a hole early in your academic career (which for this purpose starts in 9th grade), you're not going to dig out of it in your senior year. It is critical that you stay focused on academics throughout your high school years. You should get a copy of the The NCAA's Guide for the College-Bound Student Athlete which can be downloaded from www.ncaa.org or requested from the NCAA.
The NCAA has the most stringent requirements. For NCAA Division I, four requirements must be met if you are to be eligible to play as a freshman:
- You must have graduated from high school
- You must have completed either 14 (for players entering college through 2007) or 16 (for players entering college in 2008 or later) core courses defined by the NCAA and listed below
- Four years of English
- Two years of mathematics (3 years in 2008 or later)
- Two years of natural or physical science (including one year of lab science if offered by your school)
- One extra year of English, mathematics or natural/physical science
- Two years of social science
- Three years (four years in 2008 or later) of extra core courses from any category above or foreign language, nondoctrinal religion or philosophy.
- You must have the minimum required grade-point average in your core courses
- The player must have a combined SAT or ACT score governed by the grade-point average (for example, with a 2.0 GPA the player must score 1010 on his SATS; with a 3.0 GPA the player must score 620 on his SATs). The complete current index is contained in The 2004-2005 Guide for the College-Bound Student Athlete which can be downloaded from www.ncaa.org or requested from the NCAA.
You should talk to your academic counselor at school regarding the core courses. He or she should be able to tell you if you're taking the right courses and get you on the right track.
For NCAA Division II, the requirements are:
If you are going to play Division I or Division II baseball, you must submit your academic record to the NCAA Initial-Eligibility Clearinghouse for evaluation. You will not be eligible unless this is done. There is a $30 fee to have this evaluation done. You can register online at www.ncaaclearinghouse.net. This is typically done after your junior year. See your academic counselor for more information about how to proceed with this. The process is also described in the Guide referred to above.
So what happens if you don't meet the minimum requirements to play as a freshman?
- The player must have graduated from high school
- The player must have completed 14 core courses defined by the NCAA and listed above
- The player must have a 2.000 grade-point average in his core courses
- The player must have a combined SAT score of 820
If you don't meet the academic requirements for Division I or Division II you can either be considered a partial qualifier or a nonqualifier. In either event you won't be able to play as a freshman.
A partial qualifier must have graduated from high school and either completed the required core courses with a 2.000 GPA OR meet the specified minimum SAT or ACT score. A partial qualifier may receive a scholarship and may practice with the team as a freshman, but can't play. A nonqualifier cannot receive an athletic scholarship as a freshman and cannot practice with the team.
For NCAA Division III, eligibility is determined by the individual schools and is typically the same as entrance requirements for all other students.
For NAIA teams, players must meet two of the following 3 requirements:
For Junior College teams, other than high school graduation or an equivalency degree, the standards can vary from school to school.
- Achieve a minimum of 18 on the ACT or 860 on the SAT
- Achieve a minimum GPA of 2.000 on a 4.000 scale
- Graduate in the top half of his high school graduating class
To repeat what was said earlier, a common theme in the requirements is that you should be thinking about academics from ninth grade on. You can't ignore academics for three years and then "turn it on" as a senior. In addition, excellent academic performance makes you a much more desirable prospect for college coaches.