NCAA Initial Eligibility Standards


Collegiate Athletic Administration students examined the NCAA initial eligibility standards this week and commented on the purpose of this regulation, whether they were successful, and the implications to future student athletes. Here are some of their thoughts.

By: Brooke Bowers

NCAA initial eligibility requirements have changed over the years and has become more complex to focus more on the student athlete’s academics and for them to take it more serious. Fewer than two percent of more than 480,000 NCAA student athletes will go pro. (NCAA 2016) This new process is implemented to help guide the student athletes the right direction and prepare them better for when they are in college. There is big difference going from high school to college. Many freshman struggle their first semester in college because of the adjustments. With the new process being stricter and having more requirements for high school student athletes it will prepare them better and they will have an idea of what to expect.

In the article The NCAA’s Hidden Influence on High Schools, the author believes the new process was implemented because “the NCAA’s member colleges and universities do not trust each other in the high-stake athlete-recruitment game.” (Lytle, 2016) This may be a true but with only two percent of the student-athletes going to pro, the organization needs to stop focusing on those athletes and more on the athletes that are there to get an education and a pursue a career in the degree they receive.

I think this process will accomplish their purpose. The only worry I have is for the student-athletes that may struggle more with academics more than the others. This could prevent them from an opportunity of receiving a scholarship to a college or university. This new process could also refocus the student athletes and make them work harder in school for them to be able to receive that scholarship.

Lytle, J. (2016) The NCAA’s Hidden Influence on High Schools. Retrieved July 7, 2016, from

NCAA Eligibility Center. (2016). 2016-17 Guide For The College-Bound Student-Athlete. Retrieved July 7, 2016 from

By: Stephanie Hollaner

The purpose of regulating initial eligibility for NCAA athletes is to determine whether they will have the skills needed to perform at proper level to reduce the risk of withdrawal from classes.  Regulating these standards regularly can sometimes come at a price for universities, high schools, and the student-athletes themselves. The purpose of the regulations is to keep up with college and university requirements toward graduation. Sometimes the language of the eligibility standards can be slightly construed which can cause a student-athlete to not be required to take certain course which in high school. There are also ways of becoming eligible for redshirt status if the regular requirements were not completed by the time of enrollment into the college or university (NCAA Eligibility Center).

Lowering these standards will not allow each student-athlete to be able to compete in the classroom with their peers throughout their undergraduate educational experience. It can also cause them to utilize illegal outside resources frequently. These standards are set in place to get the best of the best athletes, regardless of what type of classes they took in high school.

In order for a school district to become approved through the NCAA’s Eligibility Center, its curriculum must be reviewed by the NCAA. This can cause the NCAA to allow or not allow certain courses within that school district. Many school districts have changed their course curriculum to better align with what the NCAA is looking for. Only 6% of high school athletes go on to pursue athletics at the collegiate level. The other 94% of students have to now abide by the rules of the NCAA, simply to make it easier for a few kids to play sports in college (Lytle, 2016).

Lytle, J. (January 19, 2016). The NCAA’s Hidden Influence on High Schools. Education Week. Retrieved from

NCAA Eligibility Center Quick Reference Guide. (2016) Retrieved from

By: Nicole Childress

NCAA initial eligibility requirements have changed and grown more complex over time but also add value to the lives of student athletes over their lifetimes. There are a great deal of sports offered in collegiate athletics, some of which have professional leagues. The majority of college athletes however, will not go pro in their sport of choice, making it critical that the time they spend as student athletes benefits the students not just the university. Given the fact that the work world is usually where students land after college, graduate proficiency is critical to the university’s reputation regardless of the field. As a result of this fact it is beneficial to the university both during and after collegiate matriculation, that the student athletes be successful.

The university then, has a responsibility to create a culture that encourages potential student athletes to develop habits and strive for grades that put them in a healthy academic position. Students in higher profile sports are notorious for poor grades but as standards increase, coaches are prompted to place more emphasis on academic excellence as anything less becomes more and more of a barrier. High school administrators are also aware of the standards that are in place and have the opportunity to steer students who are behind toward the avenues and human resources who will help to best prepare them. For example, Dr. Richard Gates who said of Adreian Payne, he could, “work to be able to take advantage of his gifts, or he was going to be the tallest janitor we had.” Dr. Gates recognized Payne’s talent but warned that his special education courses would not meet NCAA eligibility requirements. Payne took a heightened interest in his studies, Gates aided in studies as did others educators in the school. They were willing to meet and match his efforts, which took him to Michigan State University. The habits he developed in those high school years preparing to meet NCAA requirements, carried over and earned Payne the team’s Scholar Athlete Award and Academic All-Big Ten honors. Had the standards been low and/or extremely forgiving, Payne may gone to school and flunked out because he did not have the habits and focus to carry him through.

The initial eligibility requirements are in place to make certain student athletes succeed their first year and there is a level playing field with regard to amateurism. Requirements outside athletic ability communicate the fact that the university is there first to educate and sports can be the vehicle through which that happens. The ever rising standard indicates there is a great demand for these sport opportunities and those who want to take advantage need to take the opportunity seriously. Amateurism requirements try to keep the playing field as level as possible, barring experience, stature, and giftedness. While every violation of amateur standards can’t be caught, ever growing connectedness and exposure via technology helps to minimize it in many ways which is critical in giving as many as possible a fair chance.

The Adreian Payne Story: How Michigan State Star Became the Ultimate Role Model
Jason King, Senior Writer Feb 5, 2014


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