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College Athletics and the NCAA
This page has been created to help guide aspiring college athletes through the process of continuing their academic and athletic careers beyond Hightstown High School. Planning for this requires a tremendous amount of work on the part of the student. While the HHS Counseling Department can partner with each family to monitor the academic requirements, the student-athlete assumes the primary role of assuring that all of the necessary tasks are completed in a timely manner. The school counselors, coaches, and teachers at Hightstown High School are certainly here to help. However, it is the student's realistic evaluation of his or her athletic and academic ability to really determine the opportunities.
What is expected from the athlete:
Students are expected to guide the entire process.
In grade 9, students must express their interest in college athletics through the NCAA Interest Form. Failure to do so may jeopardize completing the necessary academic requirements.
Throughout high school, communicate with your coach and maintain a close relationship with him/her.
Understand the NCAA rules for eligibility including the core course and SAT requirements.
- Visit the NCAA Eligibility Website frequently.
- Know the HHS list of approved core courses.
- Familiarize yourself with the NCAA registration process.
Make contacts with college coaches and college admissions offices. Keep updated and accurate files on all coaches and athletic programs of interest.
Seek advice from the coach, athletic director, and school counselor.
It's the student's responsibility to market his or her talents, get their name in front of college coaches and control their own college career.
Meet all deadlines. The NCAA WILL NOT extend deadlines or make exceptions.
What is expected from parents or guardians:
Support, support, support.
Help the students to monitor their academic plan beginning freshmen year. Encourage the students to work toward academic excellence.
Assist the students in contacting coaches and visiting college admissions offices.
Assist the students in organizing and filing all contact information for all programs of interest.
What is expected from your High School Coach:
High school coaches are a great resource for athletes and for the college coaches.
High school coaches provide a valuable and powerful reference that college coaches will seek.
High school coaches write positive student-athlete recommendation letters. Students should work hard to maintain a positive relationship with their coach.
What is expected from your School Counselor:
Make sure that student-athletes understand that they must meet academic requirements established by the NCAA in order to play intercollegiate sports — being a good athlete is not enough to gain admission.
Know the academic requirements and eligibility rules for college athletics as determined by the major athletic associations.
Keep high school coaches up to date on changes in college admissions policies — they may not be aware of shifts in the regulations at colleges to which they have historically sent many athletes.
Be sure that students know that admissions decisions are ultimately made by the admissions committee, not by the college coach. A student’s eligibility to play a sport doesn’t guarantee acceptance to college.
Remind students that the availability of a sport is only one factor to consider in applying for college, even if it’s a significant factor. Students should look for colleges where they will fit in even if they cease their involvement in sports.
Aspiring college athletes must be prepared to:
Use the Internet for all research. Visit college websites and collect information about the different sports programs. Look for schools that fit talents both athletically and academically.
Look beyond NCAA Division I sports. The vast majority of college scholarship opportunities are at Division II, Division III, NAIA, or Junior College level. Students should expand their search to give themselves the best opportunity.
Attend college sports camps, when possible. The colleges’ coaching staff usually lead the camps.
Depending on the sport, contact coaches in desired programs and build relationships with them as early as possible.
Create a sports video showing the athlete in action. This will be sent to programs of interest during the Junior year along with an athletic “resume” highlighting achievements.
Excel in academics. Earn good grades, meet with the school counselor frequently to make sure academic eligibility is never an issue, take the SAT/ ACT in the junior year and be a good citizen at high school.
Don’t procrastinate - Answer any requests from colleges immediately. If a coach or school is requesting more information, chances are they are seriously considering the athlete.
In the spring of the junior year, register with the NCAA and NAIA Eligibility Centers to be cleared for college athletics.
National Collegiate Athletic Association
NCAA Eligibility Center
P.O. Box 7136
Indianapolis, IN 46207-7136
The NCAA has more than 1,280 members, who offer 23 championship sports. The intercollegiate athletic program is regulated by one of three divisions (four for football), and colleges sometimes have sports in different divisions.
Division I - The most competitive athletically, Division I colleges can offer full scholarships and partial scholarships to their athletes. Students must meet academic eligibility guidelines to play (discussed on page 10-7). Exception: The eight Ivy League schools (Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Cornell, Columbia, University of Pennsylvania, Dartmouth and Brown) field Division I teams but do not provide NCAA scholarships.
Division II - Less competitive athletically than Division I, colleges in Division II have different eligibility guidelines as well. Member colleges are typically somewhat smaller than Division I schools. Athletic aid is available in lesser amounts than for Division I sports.
Division III - Less competitive than Division II, these colleges have no academic eligibility requirements. No NCAA financial aid is provided, although these colleges may offer athletic scholarships of their own.
National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics
1200 Grand Boulevard
Kansas City, MO 64106-2304
There are nearly 300 colleges affiliated with the NAIA, offering 13 sports. Most are small colleges, and members are in every region of the United States. As in the NCAA, students must meet eligibility requirements to remain in college and to continue to play (students must remain in good academic standing and make progress toward graduation), but the regulations are simpler and fewer than those of the NCAA.
National Junior College Athletic
1755 Telstar Drive, Suite 103
Colorado Springs, CO 80920
There are 510 junior and community colleges that are members of this athletic association. Colleges can compete at Division I, II or III level.
For More Information:
Research the ins and outs of recruiting, regulations, colleges, coaches, and sports programs. Read the NCAA and NAIA Guide for the College-Bound Student-Athlete. A great place to start is to watch the recruiting video for the state of NJ at freerecruitingwebinar.org.
Link to the Eligibility Center - http://web3.ncaa.org/ECWR2/NCAA_EMS/NCAA.jsp
Student-Athlete High School Timeline
This timeline is focused on student-athletes planning to attend an NCAA Division I or II institution. Certainly, all student-athletes can benefit from this information, but the NCAA Eligibility Center pertains to DI or DII student-athletes.
- Learn more about the process of becoming a student-athlete in college at www.eligibilitycenter.org.
- Keep your grades high and work on your study habits.
- Talk to your counselor about NCAA core class requirements; make sure you take classes that match your high school’s list of approved core courses (available online at www.eligibilitycenter.org under Resources).
- Get to know all the coaches in your sport.
- Attend sports camps.
- Realistically analyze your ability.
- Start thinking about academic and career goals.
- Keep up your grades.
- Take the PLAN and/or PSAT test.
- Take classes that match your high school’s List of NCAA Courses. The NCAA Eligibility Center will use only approved core courses to certify your initial eligibility. You can access and print your high school’s List of NCAA Courses at www.eligibilitycenter.org. Click the NCAA College-Bound Student-Athlete link to enter and then navigate to the “Resources” tab and select “U.S. Students” where you will find the link for the List of NCAA Courses.
- At the beginning of your sophomore year, complete your online registration at www.eligibilitycenter.org.
- If you fall behind, do not take short cuts. Classes you take must be four-year college preparatory and must meet NCAA requirements.
- Talk to your coaches about your ability and ambitions.
- Make preliminary inquiries to colleges that interest you (a brief e-mail to the college coach is appropriate).
- Lift weights and stay in shape in the off-season.
- Attend sports camps. Start developing your sports resume.
- At the beginning of your junior year, register at www.eligibilitycenter.org and complete the amateurism questionnaire.
- Keep working on your grades!
- Talk with your counselor about career goals and, again, about the NCAA core course requirements.
- Talk with your coach about a realistic assessment of which college-level/division you can play.
- Take the PSAT, ACT, and SAT.
- When taking the ACT or SAT, request test scores to be sent to the eligibility center ( code is 9999 ).
- Refine your list of possible college choices and know their admission requirements.
- Create a sports resume.
- Send e-mails to college coaches expressing your interest.
- Prior to registration for senior classes, check with your counselor to determine the number of core courses that you need to complete for senior year.
- Begin making unofficial visits to colleges.
- Obtain letters of recommendation from teachers.
- Attend sports camps in the summer.
- Ask your counselor to send an official transcript to the NCAA Eligibility Center at the end of the junior year.
- Senior year grades are important!
- Meet again with your counselor to ensure that you are meeting all graduation and NCAA requirements.
- Sign the final authorization signature online on or after April 1 if you are expecting to enroll in college in the fall semester. (If you are expecting to enroll for the spring semester, sign the final authorization signature on or after October 1 of the year prior to enrollment.)
- Review your amateurism questionnaire responses and request final amateurism certification on or after April 1 (for fall enrollees) or October 1 (for spring enrollees).
- Attend college fairs and financial aid workshops.
- Retake the ACT and/or SAT, if necessary. The Eligibility Center will use the best scores from each section of the ACT or SAT to determine your best cumulative score.
- Refine your college list and apply for admission.
- Be aware of recruiting rules regarding campus visits.
- Complete Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) after October 1.
- Sit down with your parents and coach to list the pros and cons of each school you are considering.
- Be sure of your final choice before signing any papers.
- Have your high school guidance counselor send a final transcript with proof of graduation to the NCAA Eligibility Center
- Let coaches know when their school is no longer in the running. Thank them!
- Make your final college decision based on a meaningful education, excellent career preparation, and a satisfying athletic experience—IN THAT ORDER!