Do you want play a sport in college?
Many high school student athletes and their parents are banking on an athletics scholarship — and perhaps a career in sports.
In the 23 years that I have taught school I have had two students from my small high school who have played Division I sports — both at a nearby university.
The chances are slim. According to a U.S. News and World Report article there are about 138,00 athletics scholarships for Division I and Division II sports. Actually, your choices are about one to two percent, at best, and you may find the average scholarship is only about $10,000 a year. Full-ride scholarships are typically only offered to athletes in four sports: football, men’s and women’s basketball, and volleyball.
It is YOUR responsibility and YOUR responsibility alone to proactively pursue your dream of playing college sports.
Some quick info:
There are two overall divisions — the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) for bigger schools and the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) for smaller schools. This column will only focus on the NCAA programs. (Go directly to NAIA colleges’ athletics departments for eligibility for their programs.)
The NCAA has three divisions and four for football:
- Largest schools
- Full scholarship awards
- Competition is primarily against Division I schools
- Generate the largest media coverage and revenue and exposure for the school
- Fewer sports
- Fewer full scholarship awards
- Athletics often funded by campus departments, not just athletics
- Fewer intercollegiate opportunities
- For the [achieving] STUDENT who desires to play sports
- No athletic scholarships
- Focus more on athletes than on drawing fans for income
- NCAA Eligibility Center not a factor for admission (regular admission requirements must be met)
For the athlete who wants to play sports in NCAA schools, he or she must do the following:
- Graduate from high school AND
- Be a qualifier based on the NCAA Eligibility Center OR
- Be accepted through regular admissions process (Division III only)
The NCAA Eligibility Center certifies the academic and amateur status credentials of all college-bound athletes who wish to compete in Divisions I or II schools. Certification is based on three areas: academic core classes (listed below), GPA (2.0 or better) in those courses alone, and SAT or ACT scores.
The required 16 NCAA core classes are as follows:
- 4 years English
- 3 years math (Algebra I and higher)
- 2 years of natural/physical science (1 year lab)
- 1 year additional English, math, or science
- 2 years of social science
- 4 years of additional courses from any area above, foreign language, or comparative religion/philosophy
What do I do now?
- You can start at the beginning of your sophomore year.
- YOU can contact coaches! Prepare a well-written email introduction with your stats, GPA, leadership involvement, and contact information.
- Register NOW at the NCAA Eligibility Center: www.eligibilitycenter.org. This will cost a $70 fee, but if you have used a fee waiver for the SAT or ACT, this fee can be waived.
That is about all I have gleaned from a recent training for counselors given by the California State University. Please see the NCAA website for more info.
ONE WORD OF ADVICE:
Just because you’ve gotten a letter from a college’s athletic department does not mean you are being recruited. That just means your information is in a data base, because your school or coach sent information about you. This is VERY common. Don’t sit back and wait. You are not being recruited until a coach comes to see you, emails you or calls you. Then GO for it!
Many blessings in pursuing your athletic dreams!