• NCAA Eligibility Center announces flexibility in initial eligibility for 2021-22

    Changes address uncertainty caused by COVID-19

    Students who initially enroll full time during the 2021-22 academic year and intend to play NCAA Division I or II athletics will not be required to take a standardized test to meet NCAA initial-eligibility requirements.

    ”Given the continuing impact of COVID-19, the NCAA membership made this decision with the health and well-being of incoming students top of mind,” NCAA Eligibility Center Vice President Felicia Martin said. “We understand the uncertainty in the educational environment and believe these changes will help ensure students have a fair opportunity to meet the initial-eligibility standard.”

    Membership committees in Divisions I and II discussed the continued disruption in secondary education due to the pandemic, along with health and safety concerns and the potential for additional ACT/SAT cancellations, and determined the NCAA would continue to offer flexibility.

    Student-athletes enrolling in a Division I school during the 2021-22 academic year will be academically eligible by earning a 2.3 grade-point average in 16 NCAA-approved core courses, with 10 core courses (seven in English, math and science) completed by the start of their seventh semester in high school (prior to senior year).

    Student-athletes enrolling in a Division II school during the 2021-22 academic year will be academically eligible by earning a 2.2 grade-point average in 16 NCAA-approved core courses.

    International students-athletes enrolling in a Division I or II school during the 2021-22 academic year will be academically eligible if they complete 16 core-course units with at least a 2.3 (DI) or 2.2 (DII) grade-point average in those courses.

    These standards will be considered automatic waivers, which means students meeting these criteria are academically eligible to receive an athletics scholarship, practice and compete in their first year at an NCAA member school.

    As of mid-July, about 23% of Division I schools have adopted test-optional policies for at least one year in their admissions process. Another 19% have permanent test-optional policies. 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).

    Over the next year, the Division I Committee on Academics and the Division II Academic Requirements Committee plan to review the use of test scores as part of NCAA initial-eligibility standards, and NCAA research will analyze historical data to assist in the evaluation.

    “The standardized test conversation isn’t a new point of discussion for our membership. Throughout the years, the requirement for initial eligibility has been examined quite frequently and discussed with our NCAA membership,” Martin said. “We remain committed to continuing to monitor and evaluate what is in the best interest of the college-bound student-athlete. We do anticipate some additional discussions with our membership.” 

    Additionally, the membership committees extended the spring/summer 2020 approach to pass/fail grades through the 2020-21 academic year. Ordinarily, a “pass” on a student’s transcript is awarded the high school’s lowest passing grade, most often a D, and is assigned 1.0 quality points.

    The Eligibility Center also extended its policy to not require a separate review of distance, e-learning or hybrid programs offered by schools with NCAA-approved core courses during 2020-21 in response to COVID-19. Students are encouraged to complete their courses as recommended by their school, district or state department of education.

    For courses completed with a “pass” grade, the Eligibility Center will apply the credit earned in those courses toward the core-course requirement. If the core GPA would increase by assigning a value of 2.3, that value will be assigned to passed courses. If the 2.3 mark would decrease the student’s overall GPA, the core-course GPA will be calculated based only on courses with assigned letter grades from other terms. This policy will apply to students from all grade levels who successfully complete NCAA-approved pass/fail core courses in 2020-21.

    Also, students enrolling in Division I schools will be allowed up to six core units completed after starting the seventh semester of high school and before full-time enrollment, regardless of whether they graduated on time or when the courses are completed. This extends the flexibility provided to expected spring/summer 2020 graduates. Division I legislation currently permits one core-course unit to be completed after on-time graduation. Further, all core-course units completed before full-time enrollment will be used in the Division I academic-redshirt certification.

    More information on the Eligibility Center’s COVID-19 response is available at on.ncaa.com/EC_COVID.

    Questions about initial eligibility can be directed to  the NCAA Eligibility Center at 877-262-1492.