What is the NCAA
The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) is the largest university sports’ governing body in the United States. There are two other collegiate sports governing bodies, namely the NAIA and the NJCAA. The NCAA is the biggest with over 500,000 student-athletes who compete in 24 sports across 3 divisions. The NCAA allows it's member universities to award over $3.3 billion in athletic scholarships every year.
What Is Their Purpose?
The NCAA prioritizes student academics, student well-being and competitive fairness so athletes can succeed on the field, in the classroom and in life. They have two main focuses: 1) To ensure that all students put their studies before their sports (hence the name student-athlete and not an athletic student), and 2) They guarantee the fairness of competition by making sure that no student has played sports on a professional level at any time before attending college.
NCAA Student Requirements
The NCAA upholds their purpose by ensuring all Student-Athlete's comply with 3 eligibility requirements before being allowed to participate in college sports. Student's may be athletically suited to a university or college team; however before coaches are allowed to accept you, students are required to meet specific academic and non-professional standards. These requirements are listed below:
1) Subject Requirements:
In order to be academically prepared for the demands of college life, the NCAA requires students to have an excellent educational foundation throughout high school and states that they must take the following 16 core courses (Grade 8, is not Included):
Four Years of English
Four Years of a 2nd Language
Three Years of Math (Completed before grade 12)
One Additional Year of Math or Natural Science
Two Years of Natural Science (Life Science and Physical Science)
Two Years of Social Science (History and Geography)
2) SAT & GPA Requirements:
Athletes who are recruited to USA sports teams will have to maintain good academic standing in order for their scholarships to be renewed. If they do not, they run the risk of being Redshirted (benched for a year) or worse, having their scholarship revoked. Therefore, athletes must have a minimum GPA of 2.3 and an SAT score of 980 to meet the academic requirements. Higher GPA's and SAT scores will make your chances of acceptance a lot higher.
Professionalism will come up when going through the NCAA registration process, and you need to know that student-athletes cannot be professionals before playing in college. In the eyes of the NCAA, merely winning tournament prize money or having a company sponsor your golf balls is considered a breach of their professionalism rules, so you need to be vigilant with the small things. If going professional after college is your goal, you need to understand that once you turn pro, you cannot go back and compete at the NCAA collegiate level.
What are the 3 NCAA Divisions?
NCAA consists of three divisions: Division one, two and three. Division 1 and 2 award scholarships for sport while Division 3 does not. The Divisions are based on the size and investment in sports and have nothing to do with academics or the quality of the degree you will be receiving after graduation. For example, Harvard University is Division 1, while MIT University is Division 3. These are both brilliant universities; one chooses to invest in sports while the other does not.
The NCAA is a big league with many opportunities for student-athletes, with many South African students finding success at Division 1 and 2 universities. Head to the Aspire Atlantic website to see the list of successful scholarship candidates who are enjoying life in the USA!
Are you an elite athlete? Do you want to know what your chances are of competing in the NCAA on a Sports Scholarship?