Have you ever considered if you are eligible to study and play sports at a college in the USA? Many student-athletes love the idea of playing college sports in the USA but are unaware of the requirements that need to be met in order to do so. There are four athletic associations that students can compete in; however, we are only going to cover the main two.
The National Collegiate Athletics Association (NCAA) and the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) are the two largest athletic associations in the USA. They determine if student-athletes are eligible to compete at the college level or not. The NCAA is the larger of the two associations, with 1200 member colleges who compete across three divisions, 1, 2 & 3, while the NAIA only has one division and 300 member colleges. (NAIA College Basketball is the only sport in the association that has multiple divisions, 1 & 2).
Both the NCAA and the NAIA have academic and sporting requirements; the NAIA is known to have a more relaxed approach to academics compared to the NCAA.
National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA)
National Collegiate Athletics Association (NCAA)
The sporting requirements for both the NAIA and the NCAA are very straightforward; they require athletes to be playing at an amateur level, having never before competed as a professional. Athletes are limited as to how many years they can play college sports; every athlete is able to compete for a total of four years. The NCAA provides athletes with only five years to complete their four years of competition after completing high school, while the NAIA does not restrict students who can compete long after finishing high school.
While the NCAA maybe the larger of the two associations, they are both extremely competitive and both have ample opportunities for international athletes. Depending on the individual Student-Athlete, they will have their preference as to which association they choose to participate in.