Register With the Eligibility Center

by Dominic Tinodi

Should you or should you not register with the Eligibility Center? If so, what Eligibility Center? And what are the implications of doing so?

Photo credit: Dan Carlson

Eligibility. A hot topic in the college sports recruiting world and "being eligible" does not necessarily carry the same meaning for all student athletes.
For many athletes the lengthy process prior to competing as a collegiate athlete is tied to the decision whether or not to register with the NCAA Eligibility Center or the NAIA Eligibility Center.
Let's shed some light on the whole process that leads to the point of actually doing so in Todays' Friday Scholarship Guide:

Register With the NCAA or NAIA Eligibility Center

As you might have heard, there are a number of different college divisions. The major ones are sanctioned by the NCAA (NCAA Division 1, NCAA Division 2, NCAA Division 3), the NAIA, and the NJCAA.
You only need to register with the NCAA Eligibility Center if you plan on enrolling at a Division 1 or Division 2 institution ("NCAA Certification Account").
The same holds true as regards the NAIA, meaning you only need to register with the NAIA Eligibility Center if you plan on enrolling at a NAIA school.
In case you know for a fact that you will be recruited by a D1 or D2 school or a NAIA school, go ahead and get your transcripts, scores and information sent to the NCAA and NAIA.

Don't Register With the Eligibility Center ...

... in case you have decided for certain that you won't be competing on the NCAA D1/D2 or NAIA level.
If you have your mind set on playing at a two-year community college (NJCAA) to start with or a NCAA D3 school, there is absolutely no reason to even consider registering with an eligibility profile. It wouldn't help the search for your future team, it doesn't matter for coaches recruiting you, and all you end up doing is spending quite some money and time on getting the documents shipped out to the Eligibility Centers.

Delay Your Eligibility Center Registration

Why would you delay the registration, you might ask yourself?
Perhaps you are overwhelmed by the recruiting process and you really don't know what college teams you could fit in. How would you then know if you need to register with the Eligibility Center or not? Fair question and quite frankly many young athletes find themselves in that position.
It is of course completely up to you if and when to start the process of being certified. It is generally recommended by the NCAA to kick off the registration at the beginning of the sophomore year in high school to allow for sufficient time getting your case reviewed.
Delaying a potential Eligibility Center Registration could lead to you:

  1. getting in contact with college coaches first
  2. getting a feel for what types of coaches (division) signal an interest
  3. understanding what kind of team to join

No matter whether you manage to get started as early as your sophomore year, it is a good idea to aim at setting up your certification profile prior to starting your senior year. The benefit of delaying the eligibility process somewhat is first and foremost of financial nature (e.g. register with one of the two Eligibility Centers). Add to this the fact that quite a few administrative tasks would need to be kicked off and you could save yourself a few hours of work.

Why Eligibility Center

So what is this talk all about?

In order to play college sports, the respective organisations (NCAA & NAIA) need to review your qualifications as a student athlete and certify that:

  1. You have the necessary academic background (grade transcripts, minimum amount of NCAA course courses, test scores); and
  2. You qualify as an amateur

Simply put, you will not play varsity sports for a NCAA D1, D2 or NAIA team unless you are officially certified by the respective institution.
But note that a registration with the Eligibility Center does not get you recruited - it's just a means of achieving your goal of getting recruited by a NCAA (D1 & D2) or NAIA team.
Having said that, many things are tied to the process of being certified, such as going on official visits, receiving an official NCAA or NAIA ID or signing a National Letter of Intent (for NCAA D1/D2 programs).

Have a look at one of our older Friday Scholarship Guide articles: What Being Eligible Means for NCAA-D1 Schools

Does it Cost to Register With the Eligibility Center?

Yes, registering for the NCAA and NAIA Eligibility Centers requires paying the registration fees, currently (2017-2018):

  1. USD 80 for domestic students (U.S. citizens)
  2. USD 135 for international students

Add to that the costs of mailing documents or having your ACT or SAT score reports sent to the NCAA or NAIA. For Internationals, the administrative requirements add another layer of costs, due to the sanctioning organizations sometimes needing additional information about classes taken or core courses.

Reach out to us in case you have any question in relation to registering with one of the Eligibility Centers.
Simply send us a line at contact@smarthlete.com and we'll get back to you as soon as possible!

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