It may surprise you to learn that more than 1 in 10 college undergraduate students are challenged by a learning disability (LD). In fact, according to the National Center for Education Statistics, the instance of students in higher education with a learning disability is on the rise, including in the student-athlete population. While this may sound alarming, it also may simply signal that more students with LDs are deciding to go to college, which is a good thing! Resources for college students with LDs have also improved significantly over the last decade. If you have college baseball aspirations but are worried that your learning disability is going to be an issue, this article was written with you in mind!
It’s likely you have a lot of concerns about how your learning disability will impact your recruitment and transition to college. What additional steps do I need to take during recruitment? Do I need to notify the NCAA? Will coaches hold my LD against me? How do I make sure schools will be able to provide me with the support I need? In the next three articles of this mini-series, we answer all these questions and more. The short answer is that your learning disability does not have to put a damper on your search for a college baseball program. Keep reading and we’ll arm you with the information and resources you need to address your learning disability in the recruiting process and make sure you have the help you need once you get onto campus. Let’s get started by looking at how the NCAA defines learning disabilities and what that means for student-athletes who have them.
The NCAA and Learning Disabilities
For NCAA purposes, learning disabilities and disorders fall under the umbrella category of an education-impacting disability (EID). The NCAA defines EIDs as, “a current impairment that has a substantial educational impact on a student’s academic performance and requires accommodation.”
Some of the common EIDs are:
- Learning disabilities
- Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder
- Mental health disorders
- Medical conditions
- Deaf or hard of hearing
- Autism spectrum disorder
Are there different initial eligibility requirements for student-athletes with documented EIDs?
The NCAA doesn’t have separate entry requirements for players with EID’s. All college-bound student-athletes must meet the same initial eligibility requirements. We discuss those requirements at length here, but the best place to get the most up-to-date eligibility requirements will always be the NCAA website. There are certain accommodations that a player with a documented EID can qualify for, which we explain in the next section.
Do I need to register my EID with the NCAA?
You only need to register your EID with the NCAA Eligibility Center if you plan to use accommodations to meet the initial eligibility requirements. The NCAA allows for the following accommodations regarding core courses:
D1 Bound Student-Athletes: Students who are planning to enroll full-time at a Division I school and who have their EID documentation approved by the NCAA Eligibility Center may take up to 3 additional core courses after graduating from high school and prior to enrolling full-time at the D1 school, as long as they graduate high school in eight consecutive semesters after starting 9th grade.
D2 Bound Student-Athletes: Similarly, student-athletes planning to attend a D2 school who have their EID documentation approved by the NCAA Eligibility Center may take unlimited core courses after starting 9th grade and before enrolling full-time at a D2 school.
Are there any other accommodations for student-athletes with an EID?
Yes! Student-athletes with an EID may take a nonstandard ACT or SAT exam to satisfy test-score requirements. Students with a documented EID may also use courses for students with EID for the purposes of meeting the NCAA core-course requirement as long as the courses appear on the high school’s approved List of NCAA Courses.
Why, how, and when do I submit my documentation of an EID to the NCAA Eligibility Center?
You will want to submit your documentation to be reviewed by the NCAA Eligiblity Center if you want to take advantage of any of the accommodations listed above. Since including your NCAA Identification Number is part of the requested documentation, you will want to submit your documentations for review after creating an account with the NCAA Eligibility Center. The documents required and other FAQs are listed in detail on the NCAA website here.
Documenting your EID (Learning Disability) is nothing to shy away from! There will be many other recruits in a similar situation and you should take advantage of the accommodations allowed. The biggest thing to realize is that you don’t have to keep your EID hidden or go through the process worrying about it. The resources and accommodations available to you exist for a reason. There are a lot of people who want to help you and understand where you are coming from. Now you know how the NCAA defines EIDs and what you need to do to have your EID approved by the NCAA Eligibility Center. In our next article, we will discuss how you can account for your EID in the recruiting process, why it’s important to disclose your EID, and how to make sure that the schools that you are considering have the support you will need when you get to campus.
In the meantime, here are 3 resources that can help you better understand the way the NCAA accommodates its increasing number of student-athletes with EIDs. These resources include information about what you can expect being an NCAA recruit (or student-athlete) with an EID: