USA TODAY High School Sports has a weekly column on the college recruiting process. Here, you’ll find practical tips and real-world advice on becoming a better recruit to maximize your opportunities to play at the college level. Jaimie Duffek was one of the top 50 high school softball players in Illinois who went onto play outfield for Drake University. Jaimie is just one of many former college and professional players, college coaches, and parents who are part of the Next College Student Athlete team. Their knowledge, experience, and dedication along with NCSA’s history of digital innovation, and long-standing relationship with the college coaching community have made NCSA the largest and most successful athletic recruiting network in the country.
The NCAA Eligibility Center is responsible for determining the eligibility of all DI and DII college athletes. Every potential NCAA DI and DII college athlete is required to register with the NCAA and submit their transcripts, SAT/ACT test scores, and answer questions pertaining to their amateur status. The NCAA recently updated the eligibility center website and created a new registration type of Profile to go with the traditional NCAA Account (now called Certification Account). In this article, we breakdown what the difference is between the two and help you determine what is right for you.
What is different about the NCAA Eligibility Center?
The NCAA website now has Certification Accounts for DI/DII athletes and Profiles for DIII or undecided athletes. Traditionally, one of the biggest problems with the NCAA Eligibility Center process was that athletes would register with the NCAA which required paying a fee ($80 of US students and $135 for International) without knowing if they were being recruited. With the new NCAA Profile, you can now create an account with the NCAA for free and once you know if you are being recruited, easily transition it over to an NCAA Certification Account so they can begin the process of determining your eligibility.
Quick facts about NCAA Certification Accounts and NCAA Profiles
- What you get: You will get an NCAA ID number (needed for recruiting questionnaires).
- What you need to create a profile: Valid email you will have access to throughout high school and college (Don’t use an email given to you by your high school).
- When to create your NCAA Profile: Any time after 8th grade.
- No fee required.
NCAA Certification Account
- What you get: In addition to an NCAA ID number, you will also be able to submit your official transcripts, SAT/ACT test scores and request final amateurism certification (only needed at the end of your senior year).
- What you need to create a certification account: You will need a valid email and the ability to pay the registration fee (if you qualify, you can get an NCAA fee waiver by following these steps.
- When to create an NCAA Certification Account: If a college coach has asked you to submit your transcripts/test scores to the NCAA, you are a junior in high school and think you will be offered an official visit or are having phone/text conversations (this represents serious recruiting interest) with NCAA DI and/or DII coaches you should create an NCAA Certification Account.
- The fee is $85 for US students and $135 for International.
Do you need an NCAA Eligibility Center Account or Profile?
Below are common situations or questions where traditionally athletes would have created an NCAA Account (and paid the fee) but can now register with a free NCAA Profile and only upgrade when they are sure they are being recruited by a DI or DII coach.
- I was told college coaches couldn’t contact me until I registered with the NCAA Eligibility Center – You do not need to register with the NCAA before college coaches can contact you. There are only two scenarios when a college coach needs you registered with the NCAA. First, if they are offering you an official visit and second, if they are requesting your eligibility status (this requires the NCAA have your transcripts, test scores and you’ve completed the amateurism questionnaire).
- I am completing a college questionnaire and it is asking for an NCAA ID number – Don’t confuse completing a recruiting questionnaire as serious recruiting interest. If all you need is an ID number, create an NCAA Profile Page and wait for serious recruiting interest before upgrading to an NCAA Certification Account.
- I need to know if I am NCAA eligible? The only time the NCAA will determine the eligibility of a student athlete is if they have graduated high school, completed all of the steps of the Certification Account AND a DI or DII university has requested their eligibility status. The NCAA does not review your transcripts while you are in high school to determine if you are on track to be eligible. You will need to work with your high school counselor and review your high school’s core courses to determine that. Here is a simple eligibility check list.
- I am trying to get discovered by college coaches – Another common misconception is that college coaches find athletes through the NCAA Eligibility Center. College coaches do not search the database for athletes, they only work with the NCAA to track official visits and determine the eligibility status of their recruits. If you are trying to get discovered, trying iniating contact directly with the coach.
Overall, this new NCAA Eligibility Center process is a big win for athletes and families. You can get your NCAA ID number without having to commit to paying for an NCAA Certification Account. These new account types are a great improvement to the NCAA eligibility process.