A Guide to the NCAA

February 18, 2021

The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) is a member-led organization dedicated to the well-being and lifelong success of college athletes. The core purpose of the NCAA is to govern competition in a fair, safe, equitable, and sportsmanlike manner, and to integrate intercollegiate athletics into higher education so that the educational experience of the student-athlete is front and centre. But as a large and rather complex business, it can be a struggle to understand exactly how to navigate the NCAA from the understand. Here we have assembled a basic guide to the NCAA, which will tell you all you need to know so you can pursue your dreams of studying and playing in the USA.

Nearly half a million college athletes make up the 19,886 teams within the NCAA. Each year, more than 57,661 participants compete in the NCAA’s 90 championships in 24 sports across 3 divisions (Division I, II, and III), although Division 3 is rarely considered due to the fact that they do not offer athletic-based scholarships.

The 500 employees at the NCAA’s Indianapolis headquarters interpret and support member legislation, run all championships, and also manage programs that benefit student-athletes. Member representatives serve on committees that propose rules and policies surrounding college sports. Members ultimately decide which rules to adopt and then work to implement them on campus. These rules cover everything from recruiting and compliance to academics and championships. They are meant to govern all aspects of student-athlete life and experience. No matter

Qualifying for the NCAA

To qualify for the NCAA, the talent and skill-set within your respective sport must catch the attention of the coach. Whether in Division 1 or Division 2, this is where first impressions are formed. Besides the talent aspect, prospective student-athletes who want to practice, compete and receive athletically related scholarships at this level must also meet several requirements. Use the following as a basic guide to the NCAA's academic standards: 

  • Graduate from high school.
  • Complete a minimum of 16 core courses for Division I, which includes:
  • 4 years of English
  • 3 years of mathematics
  • 2 years of natural/physical science 
  • 1 additional year of English, math or natural/physical science
  • 2 years of social science
  • 4 additional years of English, math, natural/physical science, social science, foreign language, comparative religion or philosophy.
  • Earn a minimum required GPA in core courses.
  • Earn a qualifying test score on the SAT.
  • Request final amateurism certification from the NCAA Eligibility Center.

In addition to the above standards, Division I student-athletes must complete the following:

  • Earn at least a 2.3 GPA in core courses.
  • Meet an increased sliding-scale standard (for example, an SAT score of 820 requires a 2.5 high school core-course GPA)

Navigate the NCAA with Aspire Atlantic

Navigating the college admissions process is difficult enough without adding the more complex layer of NCAA recruitment. At Aspire Atlantic, our experienced student success managers will guide student-athletes through the athletic recruitment process, aiding them in all administrative duties and tasks when adhering to NCAA rules and protocols. We hope that this guide to the NCAA also helps you get through the college application and sports scholarship process!

Remember, it's always the perfect time to begin your journey towards studying at the university of your dreams. Sign up here for a free consultation with one of our recruitment experts. You could join over 300 student-athletes already placed in the USA, competing at the highest level and earning a world-class degree!


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