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NCAA Eligibility Center Response to COVID-19

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  • This page covers changes to NCAA Eligibility Center requirements due to COVID-19.
  • You’ll need to meet these new requirements to be able to compete at the D1 or D2 level in college.

The NCAA wants to make sure that incoming student-athletes, who come from all over the country and attend colleges that have different academic standards, meet certain academic requirements when they start college. That’s why the NCAA Eligibility Center has identified core courses that every student-athlete must complete. Normally, the core course GPA is combined with ACT/SAT test scores on a sliding scale to determine eligibility but changes due to COVID-19 have loosened standards. Reference this section to learn more about the new NCAA Eligibility Center standards. 

Latest NCAA Eligibility Center updates

Outside of graduating high school, prospective student-athletes need to meet certain NCAA eligibility requirements in order to be able to compete at the college level. Usually, this means taking certain required core courses and meeting minimum standards for a student’s GPA and ACT/SAT score. 

For the class of 2021, the NCAA updated its requirements. The NCAA is no longer requiring the SAT or the ACT for students who intend to compete at the Division 1 or Division 2 level. Eligibility will only be calculated based on NCAA core course GPA and the core course requirements. However, most student-athletes should still strongly consider taking the SAT or ACT as many—but not all—colleges will still require it for admissions into the college.

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New core course and GPA eligibility requirements for 2021–22

According to the NCAA, it has loosened NCAA eligibility requirements due to the effects of COVID-19 and the “uncertainty in the educational environment.” This includes continued disruption in secondary education, health and safety concerns and potential standardized test cancellations. 

For student-athletes enrolling in a Division 1 college in the 2021–22 school year, NCAA eligibility rules require a 2.3 grade-point average in 16 NCAA core courses. Ten of those courses (seven in math, science and English) have to be completed by the seventh semester of high school.

For student-athletes enrolling in a Division 2 college in the 2021–22 school year, NCAA eligibility rules require a 2.2 grade-point average in 16 NCAA core courses.

For international student-athletes enrolling in a Division 1 or Division 2 college in the 2021–22 school year, NCAA eligibility rules require a 2.3 (D1) or 2.2 (D2) grade-point average in 16 NCAA core courses.

Students looking to check their core source GPA can use the core course worksheet to see where they stand.

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Other updates to NCAA eligibility rules

  • Automatic waiver: These updated standards will be considered automatic waivers, meaning that student-athletes who meet these standards are automatically eligible to obtain an athletic scholarship and compete at an NCAA college.
  • Homeschooling: The NCAA Eligibility Center won’t require review of “distance, e-learning or hybrid programs offered by schools with NCAA-approved core courses during 2020­–21.”
  • Pass/fail grades: Pass/fail courses are eligible for core course requirements and extended through the 2020–21 academic year. Pass/fail grades will not be used to lower a student’s GPA; a pass grade will only be assigned a value of 2.3 if it can raise a student’s GPA.
  • ACT/SAT testing: While it is no longer required for NCAA eligibility, most student-athletes should still consider taking a standardized test. When polling D1 colleges, the NCAA stated that “About 37% indicated at that time they still will require the SAT or ACT. The remaining 21% have policies that are unclear or dependent on other variables (e.g., major, high school GPA).”

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Checking your eligibility

Between NCAA eligibility center requirements, core courses and rules updates, there's a lot to keep track of for athletes and families looking to compete at the college level. Fortunately, student-athletes can follow this helpful NCAA eligibility checklist that will help them stay organized and on-track for obtaining eligibility. It’s downloadable and breaks down steps that should be completed each year. For more help, reference these resources:

  • How to determine your NCAA eligibility: From obtaining an NCAA number to setting up an NCAA Certification Account, we break down how families can stay up to date.
  • NCAA Eligibility Center COVID-19 response delayed enrollment: The NCAA approved flexibility to rules for prospective student-athletes looking to delay their initial full-time university enrollment while maintaining eligibility.
  • NCAA Eligibility Center COVID-19 response FAQs: The NCAA has provided a document that explains requirements and also answers some of the more complicated questions. Reference it to learn more about:
    • Receiving an automatic waiver while meeting COVID-19 Automatic Waiver criteria with a non-qualifying standardized test score.
    • Re-evaluation to determine COVID-19 Automatic Waiver criteria for 2021–22 enrollment.
    • Homeschooled student eligibility for COVID-19 Automatic Waiver criteria.
    • Eligibility Center application of COVID-19 Automatic Waiver criteria for students who have not received an academic evaluation.

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