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NCAA Amateurism Certificate: How to Request Final Amateurism Certification


NCAA amateurism rules

The NCAA rules in this area are not easy to interpret. However more than 95 percent of recruits will not have a problem meeting the NCAA requirements. For athletes who have a nontraditional athletic history, here are the main points to look out for concerning your eligibility.

  • Receiving compensation that exceeds actual and necessary expenses – The NCAA does allow athletes to receive some compensation as an amateur athlete, as long as the amounts do not exceed what are deemed actual and necessary expenses. Some athletes are asked to join travel teams in which their cost is covered by the team (this would be allowed). However, if an athlete is paid more than the travel costs, they could get into trouble.
  • Receiving compensation for media appearances based on your athletic ability or fame – The obvious rules violation is being paid appearance fees, but this can also include things like athletes with large YouTube followings where they are profiting from advertising dollars.
  • Endorsing (expressly or implicitly) commercial products or services – This is one of the more difficult areas to interpret. If the athlete is being paid in any way to wear a specific brand or promote a product, it would be considered a violation.
  • Accepting prize money beyond the actual/necessary expenses – It is not illegal for a potential NCAA athlete to have competed in professional competition. However, if they are eligible to win prize money, it cannot exceed the amount more than the necessary expenses. **There is an exception for tennis players, who are allowed to accept up to $10,000/year and still maintain eligibility.

WHAT IF I HAVE QUESTIONS ABOUT THE LEGALITY OF SOMETHING: The NCAA does not provide guidance on what is and is not permissible. Informed Athlete, run by Rick Allen, is one of the few sources where you can get a detailed review and explanation of your NCAA rules questions. Contact him if you have questions about any of the above points.

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What does ‘preliminary certified’ mean?

This status means you are cleared as an amateur athlete (at this time) and no further review is scheduled. In other words, you are cleared and pending your academic status, you are an NCAA-eligible athlete.

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What is on the amateurism questionnaire?

The following are a list of questions that are currently part of the NCAA amateurism questionnaire:

  • Education Background – You will need to list the date of attendance, name, country, cost of attendance (U.S. high schools are free), graduation date and where you lived while you attended.
  • Athletic Participation – This section requires athletes fill in the following for each team you’ve been part of: team name, contact info for the team/organization, league affiliation, dates of participation, number of contests played and a list of the expenses you received.
  • Did you receive any money beyond actual and necessary expenses as part of your participation with the listed organizations? – The majority of athletes answer “no” here. If you did receive any compensation beyond the cost associated with participating in or traveling to an event, list it here.
  • Did any of your team members receive money beyond expenses? – The majority of athletes answer “no” here, but if you did play on a professional organization, list it here.
  • Did you sign any type of agreement to participate on any of your teams? – Many travel teams have team agreements; you should list those here. This is also meant to catch any athletes who may have signed professional contracts. Be prepared to show a copy of the agreement.
  • Did any of the teams call themselves professional? – If you played for an organization that had professional teams in the upper ranks, but your team was considered amateur, you should list them here. Most athletes answer “no” to this question.
  • Did/do you have a written or verbal agreement with an agent or agency? – Not all contracts with agents are illegal, but you should be extremely wary of signing an agreement and seek the advice of an NCAA expert before signing.
  • Have you or your family ever accepted any money from an agent or agency? – This is almost always a clear violation. You may be allowed to give the benefits back and be eligible but, to be safe, always avoid taking anything from an agent.
  • Have you ever been involved in an advertisement or promotion? – This rule can be difficult to interpret and you should consult an NCAA expert before agreeing to any promotions or advertisements.
  • Have you ever accepted prize money based on your place or finish? If so, how much? – If you are a tennis player you can accept up to $10k/year. For any other sport, you are not allowed to accept any money beyond the cost of participating (including travel).

The following questions are specifically related to your recruiting process:

  • How did you learn about the school(s) recruiting you? – Popular answers to this question include, email, text, call, and my coach or I contacted them first.
  • Who contacted you and encouraged you to attend this university? – It is illegal for boosters to try to persuade recruits to attend a school. Here is more on boosters rules. Most athletes list things like the college coach, my family, my high school/club coach or no one (you chose the university on your own).
  • Please list all official visits taken – If you have taken any official visits, list them here.
  • Did you or someone representing you ever use a recruiting service or another individual to help you find an institution or aid in finding an athletic scholarship? – As long as you are using an NCAA-compliant recruiting service, you will have no issues. Next College Student Athlete is an NCAA-compliant recruiting service. If you have any questions about whether a recruiting service is certified, always ask for proof of certification before you get involved with them.
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Amateurism certification status definitions

  • Final certified: This status means the NCAA has made a final decision, declaring you eligible pending an academic review.
  • Final certified with conditions: Before you are eligible to compete, you will need to meet specific requirements laid out by the amateurism committee. This is a best-case scenario for athletes with rules violations.
  • Final not certified: You are not considered an amateur athlete and are not eligible to compete or receive a scholarship at the NCAA level.
  • Incomplete web entry: The NCAA is not able to determine your status because you have not competed the questionnaire.
  • Not applicable: If you are competing at the DIII level or for certain sports, you will not have your amateurism reviewed.
  • Pending review: If something in your questionnaire raised questions, the amateurism committee will take a deeper look. You will see this status while they review your case.
  • Preliminary certified: If your account has been reviewed and cleared, but you haven’t requested final amateurism certification, this is your status. This means you are on your way to being eligible and will simply need to wait until the end of you high school career.
  • Preliminary certified with conditions: You will be eligible after you complete certain tasks laid out by the committee.
  • Preliminary not certified: You will not be eligible.
  • Suspended review: If you were in the process of being reviewed, but the school requesting your amateur status has dropped you as a recruit, the NCAA will stop reviewing your case. In this scenario, contact the coach or school that was recruiting you and find out what happened.
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