Despite the romantic notion of a college “walk on” athlete like Rudy at the University of Notre Dame, the great majority of student-athletes spend most of their high school years complying with requirements established by the National Association of College Athletes (NCAA), the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) or to a lesser degree, the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA).
So how to get started?
The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) is the non-profit association that regulates more than 400,00 student athletes and teams at more than 1200 colleges and universities. It is divided into three Divisions and generates billions of dollars a year, much of which is returned to student-athletes and their institutions. To be eligible for consideration to play NCAA sports a student must register and then comply with academic requirements and standards both in high school. Learn more by visiting the NCAA Eligibility Center (http://www.ncaa.org/student-athletes/future)
Intercollegiate sports are the cornerstone of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) which consists of 300 member colleges and universities and 60,000 student-athletes. NAIA student athletes are awarded more than $500 million is financial aid each year and compete for 23 national championships in 13 sports. Start your intercollegiate sports journey here: (http://www.playnaia.org/?DB_OEM_ID=27900)
The National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA’s ) mission is to promote, govern and foster a competitive environment for two-year college athletics. It provides opportunities for participation, including National Championships, for student-athletes in 24 sports over their two-years in attendance at a NJCAA-member college. Begin this process at: (http://www.njcaa.org/eligibility/index)
HOW TO GET STARTED ON YOUR COLLEGE ATHLETICS CAREER
- You must register with the NCAA and the NAIA no later than your sophomore year if you wish to play Division I or II sports in college.
- You must take a sequence of required core courses in high school and earn at least a 2.3 GPA for NCAA Division I and 2.2 GPA for Division II. NAIA requires a minimum 2.0 GPA based on a 4.0 scale, a minimum 940 SAT score, and that the student’s class rank be in the top half of the graduating class
- Take the SAT and/or ACT and earn a minimum score of equivalent to your GPA for the NCAA. These scores must be submitted to the NCAA using code 9999.
- A handy guide to these NCAA requirements is found here: http://www.ncaapublications.com/productdownloads/EB17.pdf
- International students may participate and are eligible for NAIA scholarships. Additional guidelines for all students can be found at http://www.naia.org/fls/27900/1NAIA/membership/NAIA_GuidefortheCollegeBoundStudent.pdf
FACTS FOR FAMILIES
- NCAA student athletes graduate at higher rates than other students and with their bachelor degrees earn 65 percent higher median salaries over their career than high school students.
- More than 150,000 college athletes receive $2.7 billion in support each year from the NCAA, representing 90 percent of its annual budget.
- College athletes receive academic support (tutoring) for their universities to help them succeed. They also travel the country and the world to compete.
- Skills developing on the playing field or court are highly valued in the “real world” after graduation, namely time-management, teamwork, leadership, and strong communication skills.