Inside Compliance: NCAA approval process for receiving a scholarship

Over the course of every month, each athletic unit will commonly be featured on our blog at least once. Today, we have a member of the Georgia State compliance staff to give InsideGSUSports an inside look at how things work in that area.  

To participate in Division I athletics or receive an athletics scholarship during the first year of college, a student-athlete must be approved by the NCAA in two separate regards: academically and with respects to his or her amateurism status.

Student-athletes qualify academically by fulfilling the requirements of the NCAA’s Division I Sliding Scale.  The scale weighs a student’s standardized test scores and high school core-course grade point average (GPA) in order to determine his or her preparedness for the academic rigors of college.  A lower test score necessitates a higher GPA and vice versa.  For example, a prospective student-athlete that earned a 2.2 GPA must score at least 940 on the SAT to achieve qualifier status, while a 3.0 GPA would require only a 620 SAT score for NCAA eligibility purposes.

Furthermore, all incoming student-athletes, including international students, must adhere to NCAA amateurism requirements in order to preserve their eligibility for intercollegiate athletics.  The NCAA certifies individuals as amateurs in their respective sports through an online registration process that must be completed by all future Division I college-bound student-athletes.  The process includes a questionnaire relating to the student’s amateur status.  For the staff at the NCAA to certify amateur status, incoming student-athletes must provide information related to, among other areas, the following pre-collegiate enrollment activities:

  • Contracts with professional teams
  • Salary for participating in athletics
  • Prize money
  • Play with professionals
  • Tryouts, practice or competition with a professional team
  • Benefits from an agent or prospective agent
  • Agreement to be represented by an agent
  • Delayed initial collegiate enrollment to participate in organized sports competition

The academic and amateurism certification processes can often be quite lengthy.  Prospective student-athletes must gather and submit transcripts (often from multiple institutions) and standardized test scores, and the NCAA staff must sift through thousands of academic records, documents and questionnaires in order to render an accurate determination of academic qualifier and amateurism status.  Because this process can sometimes take a significant amount of time, the NCAA instituted a grace period that allows incoming student-athletes to participate in practice activities while awaiting their certification to be processed.

Pursuant to Bylaw, a student-athlete who reports for athletics participation before his or her qualification status has been certified may practice, but not compete, for 45 days.  After the 45-day period, the student must have established the minimum requirements (as certified by the NCAA) to continue practicing or to compete and receive athletically-related financial aid.  Institutions are not permitted to provide athletically-related financial aid to the student during the 45-day temporary certification period.  However, student-athletes may receive room and board expenses incidental to athletics participation and may have pre-enrollment arrangements made to reserve classes prior to the beginning of the first day of classes.

— William Winter, Compliance Coordinator of Eligibility

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