Counselor Corner: NCAA

We’re pleased to introduce a new column you will see featured in this and forthcoming Guidance Department Newsletters: The Counselor Corner. In the column, you might find a counselor’s professional interests highlighted, their perspective or insight on a professional or personal topic of interest, or the inclusion of an article and resources that a counselor has selected to share with the community. We hope you enjoy this first article about student athletes and the NCAA, written by Joanna Norton, Goldrick House.

Getting the Ball Rolling With Your Student-Athlete
by Joanna Norton

With the perspective of both coach and counselor, I’d like to offer some information and insights about the process for becoming a college-bound student-athlete. Participation in high school athletics can be a fun, exciting and rewarding time for students. Moving on as an athlete at the collegiate level requires commensurately more time, commitment and talent, which can reap lifelong fulfillment and rewards. While many students participate on high school teams with the hope of one day playing at the collegiate level, far more will participate on intramural or club teams after high school than those who play on college sports teams.

For those who go on to participate at the college level, the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Eligibility Center (EC) is the administrative body that determines whether high school students are eligible to participate in Division I or Division II collegiate athletics. To be eligible, prospective students must meet a combined SAT/GPA benchmark and have passed the required number of eligible high school courses. The NCAA Eligibility Center determines which high school courses are eligible through a process in which high schools must submit individual courses for consideration.

The NCAA states that its primary concern is for student athletes to arrive ready to learn and succeed at the collegiate level. Thus, the primary consideration for acceptance of courses is whether a high school class is taught at a college preparatory level. As you might know, Newton South’s administrative team has been working with the (NCAA) to gain approval of a number of our courses that have been denied acceptance for eligibility. The denied courses are mostly, but not exclusively, courses taught at the Curriculum II level. For further information, I’ve provided a link to a recent article in the Boston Globe (here) in which Principal Stembridge highlights some of the key points involved in this ongoing matter.

The best vehicle for understanding the eligibility process is the NCAA’s website: www.NCAA.org. Here, you can access the “2012-13 Guide for the College-Bound Student-Athlete.” Please keep in mind that it is the student athlete’s responsibility to register with the NCAA and track their eligibility status. Getting familiar with the website is a must!

Now for some background information about college sports:

There are three divisions of collegiate athletics, each with different academic and athletic eligibility standards. Division I and II may offer athletic scholarships, while Division III does not. To be eligible, prospective students must meet a combined SAT/GPA benchmark and have passed the required number of eligible high school courses. Achieving eligibility with the NCAA is a process that begins freshman year when a student’s academic schedule is created. From day one, student-athletes are responsible for taking 16 approved core courses throughout their high school career. You can access the list of NCAA approved courses for Newton South at www.eligibilitycenter.org. Please note that students must complete the 16 core courses within four consecutive years of high school.

Prospective college level athletes should create an account by the start of junior year to avoid getting caught in the backlog of athletes trying to get cleared at the end of the year. When registration is complete, the NCAA will review your amateur student-athlete status, which students should continue to update and check throughout high school. The calendar can be found on the NCAA website. Again, please remember that the student-athlete is fully responsible for tracking and updating their amateur college-bound student-athlete profile.

The journey from high school to collegiate level athletics can seem daunting and comparable to the college admissions process itself. As a counselor and coach, I urge students and parents to seek the support, knowledge and experience of coaches, guidance counselors, family members, and others familiar with this process.