The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA)
The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) is a non-profit association that regulates athletes of 1,281 institutions, conferences, organizations and the individuals organizing the athletic programs of many colleges and universities in the United States and Canada. Student-athlete success on the field, in the classroom and in life is at the heart of their mission. The result is that NCAA student-athletes are graduating at a higher rate than other college students. More than eight out of 10 student-athletes will earn a bachelor’s degree. The NCAA website is a wealth of information and is required reading for all parents and players pursuing athletics at the next level. Visit the NCAA
The NCAA Eligibility Center certifies the academic and amateur credentials of all college-bound student-athletes who wish to compete in NCAA Division I or II athletics.
There are a number of requirements dictated by the NCAA that must be adhered to in order to play at the college level. It is important that you learn them and follow them. Failing to be in compliance with any of them can delay or jeopardize your eligibility to play college soccer.
Register with the NCAA Eligibility Center (Division 1 and 2 players)
Graduate from high school
Meet the academic requirements based on the NCAA Division
Attain qualifying test scores (SAT, ACT, etc.) based on NCAA Division
Maintain amateur eligibility
Meet all recruiting guidelines
It is required that D1 and D2 athletes register on the NCAA Eligibility Center website (of course, there is a cost). They recommend you do it early, but there is a cost and no specific deadline so consider carefully. D3 athletes are not required to register. Details on eligibility are available at the NCAA Eligibility Center or in the 2014-2015 Guide for the College Bound Student Athlete.
You must take a specific number of required courses in specific areas
You must attain a certain GPA during your high school career
You must attain certain scores on SAT's and ACT
The primary reason you are attending college is for academic purposes, so it is only logical that academics will play a primary role in getting into the college of your choice. Most colleges consider your GPA as more important than SAT's. They want to see a consistent standard of academic achievement over a number of years. Additionally, your high school academic achievement will directly impact your performance on your SAT's and/or ACT test scores. So start focusing on your academics early!
Division 1, 2 and 3
There are some distinct differences between each of the NCAA Divisions. Some of them include: academic hurdles for entry, numbers and levels of athletic scholarships, recruiting visit restrictions, level of play, off season involvement of coaches and NCAA registration requirements.
Some of these differences are dramatic. For instance, there are no NCAA athletic scholarships at the D3 level. However, D3 does offer merit scholarships which can be quite lucrative. Also, because there are no NCAA athletic scholarships in D3, there are less restrictions and rules during the recruiting process - making it easier to navigate.
It is critical that you read, learn and adhere to the NCAA rules and restrictions. It will make a difference as to how you approach your colleges and coaches. It can be played to your advantage or become a risk if you don't know them. More information is available in this document published each year by the NCAA 2014-2015 Guide for the College Bound Student Athlete.