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NCAA Reduces Wiggle Room for Class of 2015

Ever talk with an accountant around the water cooler? Ever ask them about all the rules concerning the IRS tax code? For high school student-athletes, the NCAA’s initial eligibility and recruiting rules are their IRS equivalent.  And the code just got even more convoluted and confusing.

Meet the new D1 academic requirements that take affect for the class of 2015 and beyond:

  • The minimum core course GPA has increased from 2.00 to 2.30
  • 10 of the 16 core course requirements must be satisfied prior to the start of the seventh semester (senior year)
  • 7 of those 10 core courses must be from the English, Math and Science subsections
  • Grades earned in the those 10 core courses are "locked in" for the purpose of calculating the final core course GPA
  • Any retakes of the first 10 core courses for grade improvement must be completed prior to senior year

Confused?  It gets better.

There is a new NCAA term.  Meet the "Academic Redshirt." Que? (Que is Spanish for "what?" By the way, Spanish and all other foreign language courses will not count for 7 of 10 core courses required by the end of the junior year.)

An “Academic Redshirt” may receive a scholarship and practice with their team, but may not participate in game competition as a college freshman. Students with a GPA of 2.30 or above may achieve either “Academic Redshirt” or “Full Qualifier” status, depending on their SAT/ACT test scores.  Students with a core course GPA between 2.00 and 2.29 cannot attain “Full Qualifier” status but may achieve “Academic Redshirt” status by meeting minimum sliding scale test score requirements.

Speaking of the sliding SAT/ACT scale, it has also increased.  Significantly.

Here are two examples of the changes to the new SAT/ACT sliding scale requirement for D1 students in the class of 2015 and beyond:

  • Current Standard: 2.00 core course GPA + 1010 SAT or 86 ACT = Full Qualifier
  • Class of 2015: 2.00 core course GPA + 1020 SAT or 86 ACT = Academic Redshirt
  • Current Standard: 2.50 core course GPA + 820 SAT or 68 ACT = Full Qualifier
  • Class of 2015: 2.50 core course GPA + 1000 SAT or 85 ACT = Full Qualifier

Remember, the NCAA does not include the writing component of the SAT or ACT and the ACT score is a sum (not average) of the English, math, reading and science sections.

Finally, just because a PSA meets the minimum NCAA academic standards, it doesn’t mean they will be admitted to play sports at the college of their choice. Many universities have academic standards for incoming freshman athletes that are much higher than the NCAA minimum requirements.

So what is the moral of the story? Start tracking early.  Very early.  PSA’s should calculate their initial core course GPA at the conclusion of their first semester in high school and continue to do so each semester thereafter.

I would also recommend that 8th graders begin to familiarize themselves with their high school's list of approved NCAA core courses.  Why?  Because 8th graders will soon be registering for freshman classes and the first high school semester is critical in starting on the proper academic path. It is not uncommon to satisfy up to 33% of the NCAA core course requirements during the freshman year. Without knowledge of their school’s core courses and the NCAA’s requirements, it is very easy to dig an academic hole that could ultimately cost an athlete a scholarship opportunity.

And that’s definitely not what you want folks talking about around the water cooler.

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