The pregame drill

The best overall advice for each prospective student-athlete and his family is to be as proactive and informed about the recruiting and initial eligibility process as possible.

Here are some tips:

1) If an athlete intends to compete at the NCAA Division I or II level, they should register with the NCAA Eligibility Center by AT THE LATEST the beginning of his/her senior year in high school. Athletes can’t make an official visit to campus or receive an athletic scholarship agreement unless they are registered with the Eligibility Center, and can’t compete at the NCAA Division I or II level unless they are certified as a Qualifier.

2) An athlete should know where they stand regarding their core class credit count, core course GPA, and ACT and/or SAT sum score for NCAA Division I and II initial eligibility standards.

3) Athletes should be proactive and communicate with their school guidance counselor, coach, and/or athletic director on a routine basis with every semester grade update and new ACT or SAT test score.

4) There are increasing opportunities for prospective student-athletes to satisfy the NCAA “core course” requirement through Nontraditional means. These additional opportunities include:

a. Nontraditional Courses, such as online courses, independent study, and other styles can now be used to satisfy core course requirements, provided that these courses include the instructional components required by the NCAA for these types of courses to be used for initial eligibility purposes.

b. College courses may satisfy core-course requirements, provided they are accepted by the prospect’s high school for any student at that high school, meet all other requirements for core courses (taught by a qualified instructor as defined by the school system, are college prep courses, satisfy the state graduation requirements, etc), and are placed on the high school transcript.

c. English as a Second Language Course may be used to satisfy core-course requirements if the course is reviewed through an NCAA waiver process.

d. Courses for students with learning disabilities may also be used to satisfy core-course requirements as long as the courses satisfy specific NCAA requirements.

5) A qualifying ACT or SAT test score does not have to be achieved prior to the date of high school graduation in order to satisfy NCAA initial eligibility requirements. The only requirement is that the ACT or SAT test must be taken prior to initial full-time enrollment in any college institution. So, if a prospective student-athlete is willing to delay their full-time enrollment in college, they could take additional testing opportunities following high school graduation in order to achieve a score that allows them to be a Qualifier.

Rick Allen is the founder of Informed Athlete (, a website created to educate, advise and assist families of high school and college student-athletes on issues related to athletic recruiting, academic eligibility, transfer issues and financial aid rules. He has 30 years of NCAA compliance experience in the Big Ten and Big 12 conferences, and as a consultant with college athletic departments. If you have questions about NCAA rules, contact Rick at 913-766-1235 or at