Academics Junior Planning & Research Tools Rules/Eligibility

Understanding Eligibility: NCAA Requirements and Rules

As you know by now, to be a college athlete (any sport), you have to be aware of the requirements and rules established by the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA). The NCAA is the organization that determines whether or not you are “eligible” (qualified) to play at most colleges, so if you ignore them, you may end up not being able to play even if you have the skills.

What do you have to do while you are in high school to be eligible to play baseball in college (up to the D1 level)?

  1. Take all the right core classes.
  2. Get good grades.
  3. Take the required tests.
  4. Graduate on time.
  5. Don’t take money or any gifts for playing your sport.
  6. Register with the NCAA so they can let coaches know that you are academically eligible to play.

Easy, right? Sort of, but some players are confused about the classes they have to take and some players have to work harder than others to get good grades and test scores. But you know all about hard work, you’re an athlete!

Junior Year is an Important Year for Eligibility

If you haven’t already done it, go to the NCAA Eligibility website. You will need to register on the website at the beginning of your junior year. You’ll want to get to see your guidance counselor because he or she can help you choose the right classes and make sure you stay on track. Don’t guess which classes to take! The NCAA has a list of approved classes, and those are the only ones that count toward your eligibility. The list of courses at your school are available on the NCAA website. Don’t use a list from another school and assume that the classes will be ok. You might need some help getting the list of approved classes at your school. Ask your parents or guidance counselor for help. If you get behind or get bad grades, you should take summer school to catch up. Your grades do matter! Sure, you might get into the college of your dreams with so-so grades, but you might not! Many college players told us that your grades can make a huge difference in your opportunities to play college baseball. Click here for more information about improving your grades.

You also need to register to take the ACT, SAT, or both, and make sure that the NCAA gets your scores. The eligibility website will tell you how to get your scores to the NCAA. Study hard for those tests! The scores do matter. If you plan ahead, you can retake the test if you don’t do well. Make sure you know the next few test dates and take the test the first time with enough time to study and re-take the test if you need to.

At the end of your junior year, you will need to ask someone in the guidance office to send your official transcript to the NCAA Eligibility Center. They can’t fax them, so don’t wait until the last minute to ask. Once the Eligibility Center receives your transcripts, you can check back with them to find out how many core courses you have left to take during your senior year. Download our junior checklist (or whatever one is best) to make sure you are on track. Take summer school if you fall behind. Don’t give up on your dreams.

Need more on eligibility? Start with Eligibility 101 or our Important Resources page.