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Best Practices for Certifying Division II Initial Eligibility

An institution's initial-eligibility process should be well documented with specific responsibilities of all individuals involved to ensure compliance with institutional, conference and NCAA regulations.  An initial-eligibility certification process that involves active participation of several institutional constituencies (e.g., faculty athletics representative, registrar, compliance coordinator, athletics director, head coach) is the best practice.

Process Prior to Certifying the Initial Eligibility of Prospective Student-Athletes.

1.   A student-athlete who enrolls at an NCAA Division II institution as an entering freshman with no previous full-time college attendance must be certified by the NCAA Eligibility Center. Prospective student-athletes are encouraged to register with the Eligibility Center at the earliest opportunity possible at http://eligibilitycenter.org/. Institutions should advise prospective student-athletes that when registering for the SAT or ACT, they should input the Eligibility Center code of 9999 to make sure the score is reported directly to the Eligibility Center.

2.   The institution may use the NCAA Compliance Assistant to communicate and update lists of actively recruited prospective student-athletes within the athletics department and between athletics and other institutional offices (e.g., admissions, financial aid).

3.   Compliance staff, coaches or a designated certification officer may enter all prospective student-athletes' names and information into the Compliance Assistant Recruiting Module. The institutional request list (IRL) drives the priority of certification at the Eligibility Center.  The prospective student-athletes' information regarding his or her entering class year, sport and ranking according to institutional guidelines should also be entered into Compliance Assistant.  If the prospective student-athlete later chooses another institution or is otherwise no longer a prospective student-athlete, the coach may use institutional guidelines to note that the institution is no longer interested in recruiting the prospective student-athlete.

4.   If an institution uses Compliance Assistant, the Eligibility Center liaison can use the Compliance Assistant Recruiting Module to enter the freshman prospective student-athletes' information into the Eligibility Center Web site.

5.   If the Compliance Assistant Recruiting Module is not used, the institution should require coaches to maintain and submit periodically (e.g., weekly, monthly), until the squad is finalized, a master list of all prospective student-athletes (including new recruits, transfers, walk-ons) to the administrator assigned oversight responsibility.  This list should be forwarded to the Eligibility Center liaison, admissions office, registrar and financial aid offices.

6.   Once the prospective student-athlete has registered with the Eligibility Center, been placed by the institution on its IRL and submitted a six semester high school transcript to the Eligibility Center, the prospective student-athlete's status is evaluated by the Eligibility Center.

7.   Prospective student-athletes that are on an IRL will have their preliminary status prioritized by the Eligibility Center for processing.  Please note that international prospective student-athletes will not receive a preliminary certification status regardless of whether they are on an IRL.  However, all domestic prospective student-athletes with an education impacting disability are provided with a preliminary status regardless of whether they are on an IRL.  If a prospective student-athlete is not on an institution's IRL or the eligibility status is never requested by the prospective student-athlete, the Eligibility Center may not process a preliminary certification.

8.   Once a prospective student-athlete's preliminary status is determined by the Eligibility Center, the compliance office should inform the coach of the prospective student-athlete's status and whether missing credentials are needed by the Eligibility Center.  An ad hoc report from the Compliance Assistant software can be developed to provide a written status report to the head coach.

9.   An institution must designate an institutional administrator to acquire necessary high school academic records (e.g., 48-C from the Eligibility Center) for prospective student-athletes who have not graduated from a junior college, and to properly identify partial and nonqualifiers transferring from junior colleges that are subject to NCAA Bylaw 14.5.4.4 (two-year college transfer regulations).

Initial-Eligibility Process.

1.   The institution should identify formal lines of communication to all personnel involved in the initial-eligibility certification process.

2.   The institution should assign to a senior-level administrator (e.g., faculty athletics representative) direct responsibility for reviewing the academic credentials, completed forms and procedures used to certify the initial eligibility of prospective student-athletes in all sports (e.g., review high school transcripts and test scores).

3.   The compliance office should establish an initial-eligibility timeline for each sport based on the first date of practice and outside competition each semester.  The first draft of the Compliance Assistant Eligibility Report should be distributed to the head coach prior to the first date of practice for verification of the squad list and notice of initial-eligibility status for practice and competition.  The second draft should be distributed not later than three weeks prior to any outside competition. Additional drafts can be distributed as updates occur.  The final copy and official report for signatures of all institutional representatives should be distributed approximately one week prior to the first date of outside competition.

The following is a sample sport timeline:

Sport:  Soccer.
Academic year:  2011-12.
Date of first outside competition:  Thursday preceding September 6.
Date of team compliance meeting:  August xx.
Date of first practice date:  August xx.
Date squad list finalized:  August xx.
Date of eligibility/squad list due to conference office:  August xx.

  • Roster forwarded to compliance office: _____ (Month/Day).
  • First draft of initial-eligibility list sent to head coach: _____ (Month/Day).
  • Initial-eligibility list reviewed/revised and forwarded to compliance office: _____ (Month/Day).
  • Initial-eligibility list revised by compliance office/forwarded back to head coach (second draft): _____Month/Day).
  • Head coach review/forward revisions to compliance office for final copy: _____ (Month/Day).
  • Final initial-eligibility/squad list to be printed and signed by all parties (head coach, registrar, faculty athletics representative, financial aid administrator, athletics director): _____ (Month/Day).

4.   The institution's certification officer should obtain and review a weekly IRL status report from the Eligibility Center regarding the status of all prospective student-athletes in each sport.

5.   The institution must require all prospective student-athletes (freshman and transfers) to complete a historical questionnaire detailing prior academic history and athletics participation.  All Division II amateurism regulations must be reviewed including the organized competition rule in Bylaw 14.2.4.2.

  •   The NCAA international student-athlete form must be completed.

6.   The amateurism certification process team at the Eligibility Center must review each prospective student-athlete's history and determine whether he or she has violated any of the amateurism regulations or triggered the use of a season of competition per Bylaw 14.2.4.2 (participation in organized competition before initial collegiate enrollment).  If there is any delay in full-time collegiate enrollment after the grace period following high school graduation, it should be assumed that the individual triggered the rule until proven otherwise.  If a prospective student-athlete has triggered a season of competition, the individual must serve an academic year in residence at any member institution before being eligible to represent the certifying institution in that specific sport in intercollegiate competition unless the individual meets an exception or is granted a waiver.  This must occur regardless of whether the prospective student-athlete satisfies the initial-eligibility requirements.

7.   If an institution uses the Compliance Assistant Eligibility Module, an eligibility report should be completed not later than the first date of competition. This report, which includes only those student-athletes that are on the squad list, should be submitted to the conference office.

8.   If there is a change in the status of any student-athlete on the eligibility report, the institution must submit a revised report to the conference office noting the changes.

Initial-Eligibility Requirements.

If a prospective student-athlete enrolls at a Division II institution, he or she must meet the following requirements:

1.   All prospective student-athletes must meet established standards to practice, compete and receive institutional financial aid, including athletics aid, during the first year of collegiate enrollment.

2.   All high school and preparatory school prospective student-athletes must be certified by the Eligibility Center. There are four elements of initial eligibility:

     a.   Graduation from high school;

     b.   Completion of a minimum of 14 core courses:

      (1)   Three years of English.

      (2)   Two years of math (Algebra I or higher).

      (3)   Two years of natural/physical science (one lab).

      (4)   Two years of additional English, math or science.

      (5)   Two years of social science.

      (6)   Three years additional courses (any area above or foreign language, nondoctrinal religion or philosophy).

Please Note:  Completion of a minimum of 16 core courses will be required for all prospective student-athletes entering a Division II institution in fall 2013 and thereafter.

     c.   Minimum core-course grade-point average of 2.000; and

     d.   Minimum SAT combined score of 820 or ACT sum score of 68.

Please Note:  The SAT combined score is based on the Verbal and Math sections only. The new writing section will not be used in initial-eligibility certification.

The minimum SAT or ACT score(s) used for initial eligibility must be provided to the Eligibility Center by the appropriate testing agency through an official test-score report.

3.   Division II does not have a sliding scale for determining initial eligibility.  The minimum core-course grade-point average and minimum test score must be achieved.

4.   If a prospective student-athlete has attended more than one high school, he or she must request that official transcripts from all high schools attended be sent directly to the Eligibility Center.  Transcripts from one high school with grades from a previous high school will not be processed.

5.   If the final high school transcript and/or test scores are available at the institution's admissions office, then copies of these credentials may be mailed by that office to the Eligibility Center to complete the prospective student-athlete's file.

6.   Transcripts may be sent electronically to the Eligibility Center. This does not preclude the mailing of transcripts.

7.   International Prospective Student-Athletes:  In addition to high school credentials and test scores, the requirements outlined in the NCAA Guide to International Academic Standards for Athletics Eligibility must be satisfied.

8.   GED Test/Equivalency Diploma:  A prospective student-athlete may satisfy the high school graduation requirement if the following requirements are met:

     a.   Only scores from a GED test taken by the prospective student-athlete not earlier than the date of the prospective student-athlete's high school class normally would have graduated from high school shall be used;

     b.   The prospective student-athlete must present the state high school equivalency diploma before initial enrollment as a full-time, regularly matriculated student in a collegiate institution;

     c.   The prospective student-athlete may receive athletically related financial aid and practice on campus at the institution's regular home facility, but not compete, by presenting a minimum score of 45 or 450 (depending on the year the test was taken) on the five-part GED test and satisfying either the minimum grade-point average and core course requirements or the minimum standardized test score; and

     d.   To qualify for practice, competition and financial aid, the prospective student-athlete must meet the core curriculum grade-point average and test score requirements, in addition to presenting a minimum average score of 45 or 450 (depending on the year the test was taken) on the five-part GED test.

9.   Advanced Placement: If a prospective student-athlete is admitted to the institution with a minimum of 24 semester or 36 quarter hours of advanced placement from a College Entrance Examination Board (CEEB) examination and/or concurrent high school/college credit without previous enrollment at a collegiate institution, the prospective student-athlete shall be immediately eligible.  Credits earned from extension or summer-session courses may not be counted in satisfaction of this requirement.

 Final Eligibility Center Certification Decisions.

1.   Qualifier:  All four initial-eligibility requirements (i.e., high school graduation, minimum number of core courses, core course grade-point average and test scores) must be satisfied at the time of initial full-time enrollment to be certified as a qualifier.  Qualifiers may practice, compete and receive athletically related financial aid.

  •   The final certification must be a "final/yes" as listed on the Eligibility Center's Web site for a prospective student-athlete to be a qualifier.

2.   Partial Qualifier:  A partial qualifier is a student-athlete who does not meet the requirements for a qualifier but who, at the time of graduation from high school, presents one of the following requirements:

     a.   Successful completion of the required core curriculum consisting of a minimum number of courses and a specified minimum grade-point average in the core curriculum; OR

     b.   Specified minimum SAT or ACT score.

  •   A partial qualifier is eligible for practice conducted only on the institution's campus or at the institution's regular practice facility and athletically related financial aid, but may not compete in any outside competition during the first academic year in residence.

Please Note:  The Eligibility Center certifies prospective student-athletes as partial qualifiers once the requirements above are met.

3.   Nonqualifier:  A nonqualifier is a student-athlete who has not graduated from high school or who presented neither the core curriculum grade-point average and SAT or ACT score required for a qualifier.

     a.   A nonqualifier is not eligible for practice, competition or athletically related financial aid for one full academic year at the certifying institution.  A nonqualifier may receive other institutional aid unrelated to athletics.

     b.   A nonqualifier may not attend any practice sessions in any capacity, including any meeting characterized as practice.

4.   If a student-athlete's final certification status is a partial or nonqualifier, the student-athlete must establish an academic year of residency prior to representing the institution in outside competition.  

5.   A partial or nonqualifier may participate in an institution's intramural program (not coached by a member of the athletics department staff) but may not participate on an institutional club team or outside sports team.

6.   A student-athlete who has never applied to the Eligibility Center is, by default, a nonqualifier until he or she applies and receives a final certification decision.

Practice Prior to Certification.

1.   A recruited or nonrecruited student-athlete who reports for athletics participation prior to receipt of a final amateurism and initial-eligibility certification decision and is otherwise enrolled or accepted as a full-time student, shall have a maximum of 45 consecutive days to practice (but may not compete) until the student has received a final certification as a qualifier and has been certified as an amateur.  After the 45-day period, if the student-athlete's certification decisions have not been established, the student-athlete is no longer eligible to continue practicing.  The student-athlete must have met the minimum requirements as an amateur and either the requirement of a qualifier or partial qualifier to continue practicing after the 45-day limit.

2.   The date of the student-athlete's first practice should be documented in the compliance office and the documentation should indicate the last day of the 45-day period for the student to be able to practice should the student not receive an academic and amateurism certification by the 45 days.  A weekly certification check should be conducted and a report should be forwarded to the head coach regarding the student-athlete's status and remaining practice days.

DISCLAIMER: The information contained in this document is provided as a reference to member institutions and does not constitute binding advice on compliance with NCAA rules and bylaws. Any inquiries related to NCAA rules and bylaws should be directed to the NCAA academic and membership affairs staff. The most up-to-date information regarding NCAA Division II rules, bylaws and procedures can be found by accessing the information on LSDBi.