Athletic Recruiting & NCAA Eligibility

The NCAA has specific course credit requirements in order for a student to participate in collegiate athletics.

Therefore, if you aspire to play Division I athletics, you should be mindful of the NCAA course requirements below. Since these course requirements must be satisfied in the first four years of high school, Division I-minded students who have repeated a year of high school should be extra vigilant and review the information below. Mr. Moriarty will assist you by reviewing your transcripts and advising the appropriate course of action. In the meantime, please review your credits and courses before contacting Mr. Moriarty so that your discussions can be more focused and efficient.

Most questions about eligibility are answered in the Guide for College-Bound Student-Athlete. If a student is planning to play a NCAA sport at a Division I or II school, it is recommended to apply to the NCAA Eligibility Center before the end of your 11th grade school year.

Overview of NCAA Eligibility

In January 2023, NCAA Divisions I and II adopted legislation to remove standardized test scores from initial-eligibility requirements. Check with the NCAA school you plan to attend regarding whether standardized test scores are necessary for admission or scholarship requirements.

Student-athletes enrolling in a Division I school will be academically eligible by earning a minimum 2.3 grade-point average in 16 NCAA-approved core courses, with 10 core courses (seven in English, math and science) completed by the start of their seventh semester in high school (before senior year).

Student-athletes enrolling in a Division II will be academically eligible by earning a minimum 2.2 grade-point average in 16 NCAA-approved core courses.

16 Core Courses for Division I (Division II):

  • 4 years of English (DII: 3 years)
  • 3 years of mathematics (Algebra I or higher) (DII: 2 years)
  • 2 years of natural/physical science (one must be a lab science) (same for DII)
  • 1 year of additional English, math, or science (DII: 3 years)
  • 2 years of social studies (same for DII)
  • 4 years of additional core courses (from any area listed above, or from foreign language, non-doctrinal religion or philosophy) (same for DII)
  • Note: Visual and performing arts courses and computer science courses are not NCAA approved core courses.

While there are no minimum national standards for establishing or maintaining eligibility in Division III, student-athletes must be in good academic standing and make satisfactory progress toward a degree as determined by the institution.

Myths of the Recruiting Process

Reality: Recruiting is now a global process, and despite your skills or success in high school, it is extremely easy to be overlooked by college coaches. Therefore, it is essential for you to contact coaches in a systematic and timely fashion.

Reality: There are strict rules as to when a coach can send you literature and how often they can contact you at the NCAA level. The good news is that you can contact college coaches at any time so long as you make the phone call, text, or send the email. Additionally, social media contact between high school athletes and coaches is not as defined. Private messages between athletes and Division I coaches are permissible, but public messages (such as wall posts on Facebook) are considered a secondary violation of NCAA recruiting rules. However, Division III sports programs, which have allowed unlimited texting as a recruiting tool since January, do not allow coaches to contact athletes via social media.

Reality: Coaches send out thousands of letters to high school athletes they may or may not have heard of and there are probably 500 kids tearing open the same exact letter you received. Receiving a letter means a coach knows your name and knows you play the sport they coach. Respond to the letter and follow-up with the coach. Until the coach calls you, invites you to the school, and makes you a formal offer to join their program, these letters don’t mean too much.

Reality: While being recruited by a college coach can be an advantage over applicants who are not athletes, you need to be very close academically to what the school seeks out in any student. Coaches can submit a list of names to the admissions department, but you need to be committed to the coach and express a strong interest in attending that institution. At the end of the day admission offices make admission decisions, not coaches.

Questions Regarding Recruiting

Schools have recruiting forms on their websites where you are asked to fill out sport and academic information. The best time to fill out these forms is in your sophomore or junior year, depending on your sport. Generally speaking, the coach will contact you with a follow-up email after you have filled that out.

Typically, Likely Letters are sent to athletic and academic recruits several weeks before official admission verdicts are slated to go out. This usually means some time in October or November for Early Decision/Action applicants and late-February or March for Regular Decision students. To receive a Likely Letter a student must complete and submit an application to the admissions office for review. 

The NESCAC is the New England Small College Athletic Conference. It is an athletic conference made up of academically selective liberal arts institutions. On top of the high academic caliber of these institutions, the league is often considered one of the most competitive Division 3 conferences. Details on NESCAC can be found on their website.

The NCAA allows a recruit to make only five official visits to Division I schools, limited to one per school. Official visits to DII and DIII schools are also limited to one per school, but there is no limit on total number of visits. At all levels, recruits can take only one official visit per school.

Families can go on unofficial visits before August 1 of junior year, but they aren’t allowed to have any recruiting conversations with the coach while on campus. Unofficial visits are a great way for student-athletes to get a feel for different college campuses.

DI recruits in most sports can now start taking official and unofficial visits starting August 1 before their junior year of high school. Some sports may allow for earlier official visits.