Getting Answers to Your NCAA Questions

NCAA customer serviceAs an organization that helps athletes and families with the recruiting process, we get a fair share of questions about dealing with the NCAA. The most important thing to understand about the NCAA is that it is designed to serve the universities and not the general public. This means they are there to answer questions and requests they get from universities on behalf of athletes and not field questions from athletes or parents directly. I am not going to debate whether this is right or wrong, this article will serve as a guide to how to get some of the most common questions answered.

You are almost always going to need the help of someone with experience in dealing with the NCAA. You will need them to review your question and if necessary, get your information over to the NCAA to get an answer. This means you need the support of people in the athletic department of a university. You get that help when a coach at that school wants you to be a student athlete and requests your eligibility status from their athletic department. This means you get recruited first and determine your eligibility second.

Determining Your Status with the NCAA Eligibility Center

Over 180,000 athletes a year create an account with the NCAA. The NCAA does not determine the eligibility status of every athlete who creates an account with them. They only review your final eligibility status if your name is requested by a college program. This means roughly 105,000 athletes each year create an account with the NCAA and never have their final eligibility status determined.

If your account is showing that your final status is pending the most common reasons are a college has not requested your eligibility status or your account is not complete (missing your final transcripts or test scores). If you have not completed your senior year of high school, your status will remain incomplete. Your final NCAA certification will not happen until you complete your senior year, have your final transcripts sent to the NCAA and a college coach requests final certification. Even after all of this, the final ruling can take months as the NCAA works through the 70,000+ athletes accounts

Trying to Determine How Much Eligibility You Have Left

There is no one available at the NCAA who is going to help you determine the status of your eligibility if you are not currently playing for or getting recruited by a college. There are thousands of potential college athletes out there, who are trying to determine if or how much eligibility they have left to play college sports. In this case, the most important thing for you to do is get a college coach interested in you first, and then they will have their athletic department determine your eligibility. You will not be able to figure out how much eligibility you have and then contact college coaches.

Filing for a Petition or Waiver

There are various situations where athletes will petition for or request a waiver from the NCAA. Some of the most common are hardship waivers or requests for a medical red-shirt. There are not people available within the NCAA for you to contact to file these waivers on your own. You will need to work with officials (usually the compliance officers) within the athletic department in order to get this paper work through to the NCAA. The most important thing is you have a college coach who wants you on their team and is requesting their athletic department help you.

As a general rule, most of the athletes or parents who are asking for our help in determining their status with the NCAA are trying to get their eligibility status, extra year of eligibility or waiver before they contact a coach or get recruited. This is not how the NCAA is designed to work. The best way to get answers from the NCAA is have a college coach who really wants you to play for them.

For help in getting college coaches attention, create a free recruiting profile on our site. If you have specific questions about dealing with the NCAA leave them in the comments below or email me from my Google+ profile.

Learn More About a Potential School With This Information

We talk about what to look for in a school in terms of athletics quite often, but athletes sometimes overlook the academic aspect of the recruiting process, even though academics and athletics are equally important. Here are some things to look at when researching the academic side of college Learn More About a Potential School With This Informationopportunities.

Admission Requirements

Academics play a larger role in admissions than you may think; contrary to popular belief, coaches can’t just get you into a school if you are a good enough athlete. The first, and most important, thing for a you to look at is the requirements for admission at the schools that interest you. Starting to research requirements early in high school gives you more options because you will know what grades you must obtain to have a chance at a that school. Researching admissions requirements later in high school, when there is less time to improve grades, will only help you know what options you still have, and it will leave you little room for improvement.


If you plan on majoring in something specific, check out what schools offer your major before even contacting a coach. Not all schools have the same majors, and if you are set on picking one major in particular, then don’t waste a coach’s time by contacting him if you don’t plan on choosing a different major.

Class Size

Do you work better in a smaller, more personalized learning environment, or are you better off in a large lecture with a couple hundred other students? Before you think about attending a school because if its name, take a closer look at the average number of students in each class, and also the faculty-to-student ratio.

Academic Support Systems

Most colleges offer academic support centers and tutoring options, and many of them have services geared specifically towards college athletes. Academic support services could end up being quite important for you due to the demanding schedule of a college athlete.

Start by asking the coaches you are talking to about the services offered by their school. The admissions department should have information about support services also. Finally, you can search for academic support webpages on each school’s website, or by googling the school name and academic support. Most schools have a specific web page dedicated for their academic support system.

Graduation Rates

Both the four and five year graduation rates are important numbers to look at when researching potential schools. They will help you learn about your prospects of graduating on time. If you don’t graduate on time, your athletic scholarship may not cover enough of your tuition cost, and you may have to dig deeper into your pockets to get your college diploma. Graduation rates will also show you how commited a school is to graduating its students, and how many students transfer out of a college (because transfers are counted as non-graduated students). Know the graduation rate for your potential sports team as well, not just the overall number for the university.

Tuition (Depending on Sport)

Only several sports are considered head-count sports– meaning only full scholarships are awarded. For every other sport, unless you are a top recruit, you will likely not be offered a full scholarship, meaning you are responsible to pay for the rest of your education. You may be able to supplement your scholarship with other financial aid, but as you are beginning to look at colleges, be aware of the overall costs so you can start planning out a budget; also research what size scholarships athletes received that have similar talent as you. This will allow you to target your school search better and eliminate opportunities that are too expensive.

Do you have questions about what academic information you need to know about colleges? Just ask us in the comments section below, or connect with us on Facebook, Twitter, or Google+!

Reclassifying 101: Important Info to Consider Before Reclassifying

A lot of things can change during a prospect’s recruitment, but for a long time one of the givens was the year an athlete would finish high school and start college. The occasional recruit would have academic issues and need to go to prep school. A few football players every year would graduate and enroll a semester early for spring ball. But for the most part, athletes were part of one recruiting class and one recruiting class only.Reclassifying High School Graduation

Times have changed. A combination of factors including kids specializing earlier in one sport, the growth of nontraditional education in high schools, earlier commitments, and more sophisticated ways of doling out financial aid have made which class an athlete is in much fuzzier.

Reclassifying is becoming commonplace enough that athletes need to be reminded about how big of a decision it is. When athletes decide to reclassify, they are refusing to follow the path that many NCAA rules are built around. Extra care is needed to make sure they still follow those rules.

What is Reclassifying?

Reclassifying is deciding to change the date you graduate from high school and/or enter college after you have started the ninth grade. Changing either is important. If an athlete graduates from high school early but do not change the date he or she goes to college, there are rules that might impact his or her eligibility. The same goes for athletes who graduate on time from high school but delay their college enrollment.

Academic Issues

The most important academic consideration when reclassifying is the NCAA’s core-curriculum time limitation, from Bylaw

A prospective student-athlete must complete his or her core-curriculum requirements not later than the high school graduation date of the prospective student-athlete’s class [as determined by the first year of enrollment in high school (ninth grade) or the international equivalent…]. Graduation from high school or secondary school shall be based on the prospective student-athlete’s prescribed educational path in his or her country.

This generally means that a prospect must have finished the NCAA’s 16 require core courses by the time he or she finishes high school. A prospect’s GPA is also more or less locked in based on classes completed before graduation.

There is one exception. An athlete may take up to one core course after graduation, provided he or she graduates on time and completes the extra credit within one year. That could be one year of a course or one semester each of two courses. Athletes who do not graduate on time are not allowed to use this exception.

If an athlete graduates early, then they may use the one additional course exception, but the one-year time period starts when the athlete graduates, not the graduation date for the class. If the two dates are different, the NCAA counts the earlier date.

Note that Division II does not have this requirement. Athletes can use any courses completed prior to starting college to become a Division II qualifier.

Athletic Issues

While some athletes reclassify for academic reasons, more and more changes in when they graduate and enroll in college are for athletic reasons. Athletes want to enroll a semester early and acclimate to college; enrolling a year early or later has advantages in the recruiting process.

Critical to keep in mind is the NCAA’s delayed enrollment rule from Bylaw Once athletes graduate from high school, the NCAA requires them to enroll in college within one year following high school graduation. If after a year, an athlete still has not enrolled in college and continues to compete in his or her sport, two things happen:

  • The athlete is charged one season of competition for every year they continue to compete; and
  • The athlete must sit out their first year after they enroll in college.

As an example, say a golfer graduates from high school, then takes two years to try and make it as a professional (but maintains his amateur status). After not making it on the tour, he enrolls in college. He would need to sit out his first year, after which he would only have three seasons to play. Tennis athletes have even less time to enroll. Their grace period is only six months, or basically one semester.

Like the academic rules, the NCAA uses the earlier of the expected graduation date or an athlete’s actual graduation date. So if an athlete graduates high school in three years, he or she does not get an additional year to delay enrollment. If athletes have to repeat a year of high school, then play a year at a prep school, they are in the same situation as the golfer above.

Tips for Athletes

If you think you might reclassify, you need to keep more things in mind than the average recruit.

  • Make sure your academics are in order. Once you change the date you plan to graduate, either earlier or later, your options for fixing eligibility issues are reduced quickly.
  • Check to see if you are allowed to graduate early or take classes after graduation. The need for tax dollars means some schools limit or prohibit students from graduating early. The lack of tax dollars means classes for students who have graduated are disappearing.
  • Complete eligibility requirements in an academically sound manner. Graduating from high school early might seem like a good idea until rushing through school work leaves you ineligible.
  • Consider other aspects of high school. Graduating early might mean no prom, no graduation ceremony, or even no senior year. Going to prep school might mean watching friends go off to college while you stay behind.
  • Watch your athletic eligibility. Delaying your enrollment for more than a year or graduating early to focus on your sport before starting college can cause you to lose some of your eligibility.

IMPORTANT ADDITION. We have a new article about how to reclassify here.

Are you considering reclassification and have questions about it? Ask us in the comments section below, or connect with us on Facebook, Twitter, or Google+!

Factors Coaches Consider When Making Scholarship Decisions

Coaches are the people who determine which athletes get scholarships at the college level, not athletic directors, the admissions offices, or the NCAA or NAIA Eligibility Centers. High school athletes who want to continue their careers at the collegiate level already know they want a scholarship, but do they truly know what factors go into a coach’s decision to offer a scholarship to an athlete? Coaches look at more than just your athletic profile, such as academics, personality, maturity, and position specific needs. 

Athletic Ability

A coach will first evaluate an athlete’s athletic ability. An athlete’s skill level won’t be the only thing that gets an athlete a scholarship, but it could very easily be the reason an athlete does not get one. Make sure you use every advantage to properly market your athletic abilities, and take the time to research which schools best fit your abilities.

Depending on what sport you play, you will need a highlight video (individual sports that focus on times/races such as swimming, track, and rowing, don’t usually require a video); but don’t just create a highlight video because you need one, create a great highlight video and use it to best display your athletic ability.

Sending your highlight video to coaches is a great start toward getting evaluated, but make sure that you also take the time to introduce yourself; it will help go a long way to building a relationship that will eventually lead to coaches evaluating your athletic ability in person, either at your games or at camps (which are vital to being recruited).


Grades are greatly underestimated by many athletes. They tend to think that athletic ability alone will get them into the school of their dreams, but both the NCAA and the NAIA have academic requirements that are minimum academic standards for receiving a scholarship. These requirements are standards for the lowest you can perform to be eligible for a scholarship- they are in no way the requirements for individual colleges and universities. Most schools have academic requirements that are higher than what is required by the NCAA and NAIA, so make sure you set your goals appropriately. You will want to research each individual college to make sure you fit their academic profile.

Coaches want to recruit athletes with good grades. Athletes still must apply for admission through a college’s admissions department, so even if you have a scholarships offer you will be subject to the same admissions process as other students. Coaches will always offer a scholarship to an athlete with better grades over an athlete with similar athletic skill but lower grades because they know it will be easier for the admissions department to accept them. Good grades also show coaches that an athlete works hard in the classroom, not just in their sport.


The personality aspect of the recruiting process is the one that athletes have the most control over. Coaches want to see athletes interact with them in mature, responsible ways. When athletes contact coaches they need to be professional- think of it as applying for a job. Don’t use slang or inappropriate language when contacting coaches. Edit your correspondence for any mistakes and use spell check before sending emails. Coaches want to build their team around athletes with great character and personalities, so make sure that your interactions with a coach illustrate the best qualities of your personality.


Coaches look to recruit athletes that are mature and can handle the rigorous workload that comes with being a collegiate student-athlete. Athletes can show coaches their maturity by being proactive and starting to contact coaches on their own in a professional manner. Respond to coaches’ correspondence promptly to show an interest in their program. The more mature an athlete presents themselves, the more likely they will be offered a scholarship.

Position Specific Aspects

An athlete may have all the correct grades, athletic skills, and other requirements to fit a university, but sometimes a coach may not be recruiting for their position. Look at current rosters and graduating classes to see what positions a college team may need. If you are a soccer goalie, your chances of getting a scholarship are much higher at a school that’s about to graduate a couple of goalies than at one that has two or three freshman or sophomore goalies.

Want to know more about the aspects that go into a coach’s decision to offer an athlete a scholarship? Just ask us in the comment section below, or connect with us on Facebook, Twitter, or Google+!

Recovering From a Bad Class

The NCAA’s intitial eligibility requirements are all about making sure high school students make steady progress through a basic education that should prepare them for college. For most prospects, getting eligible is a simple task: take four core courses every year, get good grades, take the SAT and/or ACT a couple of times and graduate from high school.

But for others, eligibility can be a stop/start affair. There are a number of reasons for it, but if a student falls behind the pace the NCAA expects in initial eligibility, he or she will need to put in some extra effort to make sure academics are not a barrier to getting a scholarship and playing in college.

It Wasn’t Always this Difficult

Just a couple years ago, getting back on track with initial eligibility was relatively easy. Students could enroll in online courses or credit recovery that could be completed in a number of days or with just a few minutes of work here and there over the course of a semester. But abuses like semester-long courses completed in a few minutes lead the NCAA to introduce new requirements for nontraditional courses, which includes everything except traditional classroom instruction.

If you need to retake a course or add a course either to get extra credits or to improve your GPA, a traditional class in a classroom during the academic year is still your best option. It avoids issues with online or correspondence courses and is easiest to verify that the course will count for initial eligibility purposes.

If you cannot take another regular course, summer school is another option. Watch for summer school that is actually just online courses taught in a computer lab. Those have many of the same problems as taking an online course on your own. Also keep in mind that if your summer school is through a different high school or district, you will have another transcript that must be sent to the Eligibility Center.

Sometimes Non-traditional Programs are the Only Option

But as summer school is lost to budget cuts and schools become resistant to letting students retake courses, online and other nontraditional programs are often the only option. If that is the case, there are some extra steps prospects need to take:

1. Make sure the course is approved by the NCAA as a nontraditional course. If the course is being offered by your school, make sure they got it approved or find out who the provider is and see if they have an approved core course list.

2. Check the appropriate time frames for completing the course. Most nontraditional courses approved by the NCAA require a minimum of 6–8 weeks to complete.

3. Work on the course consistently. Either work it into your school schedule or set aside some time (an hour or two) every day to study and complete assignments.

4. Complete every assignment and exercise. Even if work is not graded or all you need to do is take quizzes and tests, do all the assignments just like you would in a regular class.

5. If you’re doing the course on your own, keep a log of the time you spend on the course, and when you start and finish each assignment. If the course is online and does that for you, print off a copy regularly for your records.

6. Keep a copy of everything from the course. That includes the syllabus, outline, every assignment, copies of papers, test and quiz answers (if you can get them), grade reports, etc.

The reason for all this is that with self-directed courses (where the student decides when and for how long to work on the course) there is the additional potential hurdle of PSA Review. In PSA Review, the school and the prospect must show that the course was completed in an “academically sound matter”. That means the student did all the work, did not skip sections or rush through the class, and all grades and scores were legitimate. The easiest way to get through PSA Review is by showing documentation that the class was as close to a normal course in a classroom as possible.

The other major point to keep in mind is that if you fail a course or need to improve your GPA, do so at the next possible opportunity. Not only are there new requirements limiting the amount of work a prospect can do their senior year, but high school builds on itself. If you do poorly in Algebra 1, it makes Geometry and Algebra 2 that much harder; it’s best to take some time out to fix a problem right away and get back on track.

Do you have questions about what courses you need to take to become eligible to compete at the NCAA level?  Just ask us in the comment section below, or connect with us on Facebook, Twitter, or Google+!

It’s Science… Athletes Are Smarter

Everyone has heard the phrase “dumb jock” used in reference to athletes’ performance in the classroom, but is the stereotype really true? Not according to the Los Angeles Unified School District. The LAUSD recently conducted a study that shows athletes are quite the opposite of “dumb jocks.” In fact, athletes had higher grade point averages (GPA), performed better on standardized tests, and attended school and class more often than non-athletes.

Hence, if athletes are approximately 0.55 to 0.74 points higher (on a 4-point scale) in GPA than non-athletes, what factors are contributing to athletes performing better in school?

Coaches Monitor Athletes Grades

Most high schools have a GPA requirement to play sports. This means that athletes are forced to be more conscious of their grades than other students. During a sport season, most coaches get regular progress reports from athletes to ensure athletes will continue to be eligible to compete for their team. Some coaches even check in with athletes during the off season to keep them on the right track.

Athletes Must Be in School to Play/Practice

Athletes cannot skip school and be allowed to play in games or practice with the team. Even if they were to try and skip school on days which they only had practice, if an athlete misses too many practices, then coaches will not play them in the next game. This leads to higher attendance rates for athletes. In fact, during the 2010–2011 school year, athletes attended school on an average of 21 days more than fellow nonathletes. That is a staggering number considering the school year is only approximately 180 days.

Athletes Are Focused on Academics for NCAA Eligibility Purposes

Athletes typically start thinking about and engaging colleges at an earlier age than other students because of the nature of the recruiting process. When athletes start to contact coaches (should be during their sophomore or at the latest junior year), they get a better understanding of the requirements necessary for both college admission and those required by the NCAA. This allows them to make sure they stay on track to be admitted to the schools they want to get into. Most nonathletes start thinking about college before their senior year but don’t actually begin to communicate with admission departments until their senior year.

Athletics Helps Kids Develop Competitive Natures

Whether kids who play sports are drawn to them because of an inherent competitive side or they develop it over years of playing, there is no question that athletes have more competitive embers burning inside than the average person. This shows itself in the classroom, evidenced by the recent LAUSD study, but employers recognize it as well. Athletes can be more desirable in the hiring process because of the internal drive they develop throughout their playing careers along with their time management skills and work ethic.

Do you have any ideas why athletes perform better in the classroom? Share them with us in the comments section below or connect with us on Facebook, Twitter, or Google+!

Should I Take the SAT, ACT, or Both?

SAT Exam ACT Exam College Sports

All high school students looking to apply to college need to take either the SAT or the ACT. Most colleges and universities accept both for admissions, so how do you know which one to take? One idea would be to take the PSAT and the PLAN, both of which are predictive tests for the SAT exam and ACT exam, respectively. Both will give you a better feel for the format of each test and the material. If you want to know what you have to score for the NCAA or NAIA eligibility, here is a good page.

Here are some key differences between the SAT and the ACT which can help you determine which test might be best for you:


  • Strong Focus on Vocabulary: If one of your strengths is English, grammar, or a diverse vocabulary, the SAT might be the test for you.
  • More Broken Up Than ACT: The SAT has 10 sections of the test while the ACT has four (with an optional writing section at the end). The SAT bounces back and forth between subject areas and the ACT gets each subject over with in big time chunks, so you need think about whether the constant subject change will help refresh you or distract you.
  • Each Section Is Weighed More Than ACT: In the SAT, college admissions look more specifically at your score for each section and how you did in each subject. In the ACT, they tend to look more at the whole test and make note of your composite scores. So if you don’t do well in just one section but good overall, you could still have a great ACT score; but in the SAT, the poor score may affect your status as a potential student.
  • General Reasoning/Problem Solving Rather Than Curriculum Material: The SAT features more general reasoning and problem-solving questions while the ACT is more focused on curriculum-based information. This means that the SAT may require a little more critical thinking skills than the ACT does.
  • SAT Is a Longer-Timed Test: While the SAT is broken up into more sections, it also takes longer than the ACT. The SAT is approximately 3 hours, 45 minutes while the ACT is 2 hours, 55 minutes. Think about your attention span and whether you will be able to sit and focus long enough to last through the entire test.


  • Composite Score Is Most Important: The ACT composite score will be the determining factor for your admissions. This means you could still get a good score even if you don’t do well in one of the sections. Unlike in the SAT, in which each section is taken into consideration, the total score on the ACT is where college admissions make their decisions.
  • Writing Test Is Not Required: Having an optional writing section is a great advantage if your strengths aren’t in writing essays. Since the SAT has a writing section at the start of the test, taking the ACT might be a better choice for you if you are not sure you want to write an essay.
  • Math Section More Advanced Than SAT: The math section of the ACT includes more advanced math subjects like trigonometry. If math is one of your strong areas, taking the ACT will help you earn a good math score since the test questions tend to be more straightforward than the SAT.
  • Has a Science Section: The ACT has a specific science section while the SAT does not. If you know you can do well in a science subject test, you can use the science section to help improve your ACT composite score.
  • Questions More Straightforward Than SAT: Questions on the ACT are typically more straightforward than those on the SAT. They tend to be easier to understand just from one read, while many questions on the SAT take multiple reads to determine what exactly you are being asked. Think about your time-management abilities during tests and whether you will be able to grasp the answer they are looking for without spending too much time on each question.

Are you having trouble registering for either test or have more questions? Leave your questions in the comments below or on Facebook, Twitter and Google+!