NCAA Freshman Eligibility Standards


The NCAA recently released the new SAT/ACT sliding scale that corresponds with the increased GPA requirements for the class of 2016 and beyond. Any student-athlete beginning high school in the fall of 2012 and after who is even remotely considering the possibility of playing a sport collegiately needs to understand these changes. The wiggle room to correct academic shortcomings has been greatly reduced.
Here is a summary of the new D1 academic requirements for a Full Qualifier that take affect for the class of 2016 and beyond:

  • The minimum core course GPA has increased from 2.00 to 2.30
  • 10 of the 16 core course requirements must be satisfied prior to the start of the senior year
  • 7 of those 10 core courses must be from the English, Math and Science subsections
  • Grades earned in the 10 core courses are "locked in" for the purpose of calculating the final core course GPA
  • Any retakes of the first 10 core courses must be completed prior to senior year

The NCAA has also introduced a new status for the class of 2016 - the "Academic Redshirt." An “Academic Redshirt” may receive a scholarship and practice with their team, but may not participate in game competition as a college freshman. Students with a GPA of 2.30 or above may achieve either “Academic Redshirt” or “Full Qualifier” status, depending on their SAT/ACT test scores. Students with a core course GPA between 2.00 and 2.29 cannot attain “Full Qualifier” status but may achieve “Academic Redshirt” status by meeting minimum sliding scale test score requirements.

The new sliding SAT/ACT scale results in significant changes in minimum test score requirements. The minimum SAT score required to compete as a college freshman increased by 180 points while the minimum ACT score increased by an average of 14 points (sum score).

Here are two examples of the changes to the new sliding scale:

  • Prior to 2016: 2.00 core course GPA + 1010 SAT or 86 ACT = Full Qualifier
  • 2016 and after: 2.00 core course GPA + 1020 SAT or 86 ACT = Academic Redshirt
  • Prior to 2016: 2.50 core course GPA + 820 SAT or 68 ACT = Full Qualifier
  • 2016 and after: 2.50 core course GPA + 1000 SAT or 85 ACT = Full Qualifier

Remember, the NCAA does not include the writing component of the SAT or ACT and the ACT score is a sum score (not average) of the English, math, reading and science sections.

Finally, just because a student-athlete meets the minimum NCAA academic standards, it doesn't mean they will be admitted to play sports at the college of their choice. Many universities have academic standards for incoming freshman athletes that are much higher than the NCAA minimum requirements.

So what does this all mean? Student-athletes must start tracking courses early. A student-athlete should calculate their initial core course GPA at the conclusion of their first semester in high school and continue to do so each semester thereafter.
Now more than ever, every semester counts.

Castle View High School has teamed up with to provide custom online software to all student-athletes to assist in tracking their progress towards meeting NCAA initial eligibility requirements. Click here to register with now.

Please note, Division II will require 16 core courses beginning August 1, 2013.

16 Core Courses:
  • English--4 years
  • Mathematics (Algebra I or higher)--3 years
  • Natural/physical science--2 years
    (1 year of lab if offered by high school)
  • Additional English, mathematics or natural/physical science--1 year
  • Social science--2 years
  • Additional courses (from any area above, foreign language or nondoctrinal religion/philosophy)--4 years
14 Core Courses:
  • English--3 years
  • Mathematics (Algebra I or higher)--2 years
  • Natural/physical science--2 years
    (1 year of lab if offered by high school.
  • Additional English, mathematics or natural/physical science--2 years
  • Social science--2 years
  • Additional courses (from any area above, foreign language or nondoctrinal religion/philosophy)--3 years

PLEASE NOTE: Beginning August 1, 2012, students planning to attend an NCAA Division II institution will be required to complete 16 core courses.

Division II has no sliding scale. The minimum core grade-point average is 2.000. The minimum SAT score is 820 (verbal and math sections only) and the minimum ACT sum score is 68.

14 core courses are currently required for Division II. However, beginning 2012, students will be required to complete 16 core courses.

16 core course are required for Division I. The SAT combined score is based on the verbal and math sections only. The new writing section will not be used.

SAT and ACT scores must be reported directly to the Eligibility Center from the testing agency. Scores on transcripts will not be used.

Students enrolling at an NCAA Division I or II institution for the first time need to also complete the amateurism questionnaire through the Eligibility Center Web site. Students need to request fi nal amateurism certification prior ro enrollment.

For more information regarding the rules, please go to Click on “Academics and Athletes” then “Eligibility and Recruiting.” Or visit the Eligibility Center Web site at

NCAA Eligibility Center Quick Reference Guide

NCAA Newsletter

Please call the NCAA Eligibility Center if you have questions:
Toll-free number 877/262-1492.