Do you want to earn a Division I athletic scholarship? Well if you do – and if its not too late for you – you need to start thinking about how well you perform in the classroom as much as you think about how well you perform on the field.

That’s because the NCAA requires student-athletes to meet a minimum level of academic standards in order to be eligible to play Division 1 athletics. And, if you don’t meet the NCAA’s minimum requirements, then you don’t get to play. It’s that simple.

Now is the time for you to learn everything about these requirements so that you can make sure that you continue to meet or exceed them as you continue throughout high school. You will need to meet several criteria when it comes to standardized test scores, grade point averages, taking the right core courses, and maintaining your amateur athlete status to be eligible to play in the NCAA.

However, one of the most important things that you need to be aware of is the NCAA’s Division minimum GPA requirements.  These requirements are the baseline for you to be considered and if you slack off with a couple of failing grades, you’re making work twice as hard for you down the road.

Required Minimum GPA for a D1 Scholarship

In order to be academically eligible for an NCAA Division 1 scholarship, you need to meet a minimum 2.3 grade point average (GPA) on a 4.0 grade scale.  The most common mistake that student-athletes (and their parents) make is that they look at their overall GPA and assume that they are eligible.  Although you may have an eligible overall GPA, you can still be ineligible by NCAA standards.

That’s because the NCAA uses a system that calculates your GPA from “core courses” to determine if you are academically eligible or not.  Your core course GPA is different from the GPA that is displayed on your high school transcript.

The NCAA only calculates approved classes that cover the following core subjects:

  • English
  • Math
  • Natural/Physical Science
  • Social Science
  • Foreign Language
  • Comparative Religion
  • Philosophy

Along with having an eligible GPA within those core subjects, the NCAA requires that:

  • 10 of your 16 core courses must be completed by the end of your junior year
    • 7 must be in English, Math or Natural/Physical Science

Also, after the completion of your junior year, your grades in those 7 classes will be permanently documented, which means that you can’t retake those classes in your senior year.

Required Minimum ACT or SAT Scores

In order to determine if your standardized test scores are enough to make the grade to earn a scholarship, you need to see where your scores land on the NCAA’s sliding scale. The lower the grades you have, the higher you will be required to score on the SAT or ACT. The higher the grades you have, the lower you have to score.  That’s why it is so important for you to do as well as you possibly can academically in high school.

For example, if you meet the minimum required 2.3 GPA for your core courses, you will need to achieve a 900 on the SAT’s or a 75 SCT score to be eligible. A student-athlete that has a 3.1 GPA will only be required to score a 590 on the SAT or a 49 on the ACT.  That’s a much easier minimum requirement to achieve simply just because they did their schoolwork.

You can see where you fall on the NCAA’s sliding scale by clicking here.

Why You Need to Set Your Goals Higher Than a 2.3 GPA

Just because the minimum is a 2.3 from the NCAA, that doesn’t mean that you’re in the clear to become a student-athlete.  That’s because there are schools out there that require you to score much higher than a 2.3 to meet their own standards.  As a matter of fact, even if you have a 2.5 GPA (higher than the NCAA’s minimum requirements), you would still be ineligible for approximately 1,500 schools. That’s because only 2% of schools have an average acceptable GPA at 2.5 or lower.

What you need to understand is that colleges and universities are holding their applicants to a higher standard than the NCAA requires. That’s why performing well in school is vital to your probability of competing as an NCAA student-athlete, especially at the Division 1 level.

When it comes to recruiting, there are several other factors that come into play that determine your chances of being a college athlete and earning a scholarship. You can pretty much guarantee that the lower you are on the academic scale, the less opportunity you are going to have.  You cannot think that every year is a clean slate for recruiting.

There are important factors to keep in mind, such as:

  • Schools that aren’t recruiting for that year
  • Schools that have your position already filled for several years
  • Schools that are looking for a certain type of athlete or skill set
  • Schools that are looking for student-athletes that have higher grades
  • Schools that are looking for students that can red shirt
  • Scholarship availability for that year

Just because there are 300 Division 1 teams in your respective sport, it doesn’t mean that all 300 are even looking for players in your recruiting class, let alone looking to give out a scholarship. Of those 300 schools, there may be some looking for a smart kid with amazing grades because their team GPA is currently low.  There may be some that are looking for a certain type of player to compliment what they already have.  There even may be some schools that don’t even have recruiting as a priority because they have a significant amount of underclassmen.

What you need to realize is that not every school is recruiting.  And the lower your grades are, the lower the chances you will have to play collegiate sports.  It’s just a numbers game. To make sure that you give yourself the best opportunity possible, you need to make sure that you do the best that you possibly can in school.  If you don’t, it will be something that you will regret for the rest of your life.

If you want to earn a scholarship, you need to hit the books and understand that school is important. It’s just as important, if not more important, than what you do on the field.






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