New NCAA Initial Eligibility Rules for High School Freshmen

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High school freshmen take note: the NCAA is changing its academic requirements for college-bound student-athletes at the Division I level. The new rules impose time limits on completing courses in high school, set new GPA benchmarks and change the sliding scale between GPA and SAT/ACT test scores. The new eligibility rules affect current high school freshmen and all student-athletes entering college on or after Aug. 1, 2015.

Under the new rules, to receive athletics aid (a scholarship), practice and compete in your first year of college, you must:

1. Complete 16 core courses (same distribution as in the past).

2. Complete at least 10 of those core courses before your seventh semester of high school (first semester of senior year). Seven of the 10 must be in English, math or science. These 10 courses become "locked in" for calculating your GPA, meaning you cannot repeat any of them after your senior year begins. This rule didn't exist in the past.

3. Earn a minimum GPA of 2.30 in your 16 core courses. This rule didn't exist in the past.

4. Meet the new sliding scale between your GPA and SAT/ACT scores. The new scale increases GPA/test score requirements. Currently, a 2.50 GPA requires an 820 SAT or 68 sum ACT score. Under the new rule, if you have a 2.50 GPA, you must score a 1000 SAT or 85 sum ACT.

5. Graduate from high school.

If you meet these requirements, you will be a full qualifier. Only full qualifiers are eligible to receive athletics aid (scholarships), practice and compete in the first year of college.

If you don't meet these new requirements, but you do meet a lower set of academic standards, you could be considered an academic redshirt. As such, you will still be able to receive athletics aid and practice during your first semester or quarter of college, but you will not be allowed to compete. To be an academic redshirt, you must take the 16 core courses, earn a minimum GPA of 2.00 in them, and meet a decreased GPA and SAT/ACT sliding scale. For example, if you have a 2.50 GPA, you must score an 820 SAT or 68 sum ACT score.

The new eligibility rules apply to current high school freshmen and younger students. Make sure you're taking the necessary steps to become a full qualifier. Talk with your high school guidance counselor as soon as possible.


Kesha Christoph is the college placement and NCAA initial eligibility director at SPIRE Institute (Geneva, Ohio). She works with full-time academy students and post-graduates to create individualized plans to help student-athletes reach their goals of studying and competing at the collegiate level. A licensed attorney, Christoph was a Division I athlete and team captain at George Washington University.

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