student athletes

interesting in playing in the ncaa or naia at college?

NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association)

High School Timeline (To Do List for 9th through 12th grades)

Divisions within NCAA (Division 1, 2, 3)

College Bound Student Athlete Guide

Eligibility Center (GPA & Test Score Requirements) - *Students are encourage to register and create their profile account as early as 9th grade year.

NAIA (National Athletic Intercollegiate Association)

Early Decision & Meeting Freshman College Requirements

Guide for the College Bound Student Athlete

Differences between NAIA & NCAA (a more focused NAIA article describing the major key differences)

Student Athlete Timeline to prepare for Recruitment

Here is a basic athletic recruitment timeline & Differences between "official" and "unofficial" visits!

Junior year:

Summer before senior year/senior year

Official vs Unofficial Visits (by you!)

High school athletes interested in playing in college need to understand some basic principles. Visits are specifically defined as “official” and “unofficial.” 

Official visits are paid for by the institution. According to NCAA rules and regulations, these are not allowed before a prospective student-athlete becomes a senior in high school. It’s also important to note that student-athletes are limited to one “official” visit per institution and a total of five overall. The rules also state that the visit cannot last more than 48 hours and that the student must already have registered with the NCAA Eligibility Center, and have had their test scores and high school transcripts sent to the college or university.

An unofficial visit is when a student-athlete and any accompanying family members choose to visit a college or university and they are not reimbursed by the institution. Prospective student-athletes are allowed to make as many of these visits as they like during their sophomore, junior and senior years. A typical “unofficial” visit might include a tour of the campus, and meetings with coaches and with other student-athletes. Athletic Departments may choose to arrange interviews with the Admissions Office as well.

From International College Consultants: Cast a wider net when looking at playing sports in college

When college advisors have initial conversations with prospective college student-athletes, one of the most common refrains goes something like this: “I want to play for an NCAA team, but only if it's for a top-ranked program or at a prestigious school.” On the surface, this approach sounds perfectly fine. After all, you may ask, what’s wrong with setting high goals and aiming for the stars? Aren’t these qualities we want our high schoolers to embrace? Yes, these are indeed great qualities, but when it comes to athletic recruiting, these same qualities can also severely limit where and even if an athlete is recruited. A more beneficial approach is to thus cast a wider net when it comes to the colleges and programs the athlete contacts. Yes, you can contact those “top” D1and/or Ivy League colleges, but also include other colleges that offer strong academics, solid athletics, and great playing facilities. Doing so can result in some distinct advantages, allowing you to…


1. Increase coach communication: One of the most frustrating parts of athletic recruiting is not hearing back from coaches after initial contact. By dramatically expanding your coach list (say from 15 to 60), you increase the chances that more coaches will initiate conversations with you. This early success can give you confidence for the entire process, plus, it gets more coaches talking about your profile and abilities. And because coaches know other coaches at colleges that might not be on your list, your contact list has just expanded even more. Remember, the wider your net, the more fish you’ll catch.


2. Maximize your potential for official visits: One of your main recruiting goals is to be invited on official visits (usually in fall of grade 12), where you can meet the coaching staff, observe practices, and learn about crucial aspects like team morale and team dynamics. Do the team members get along? Do they respect the coach? Are the facilities nice? Ideally, you want to visit more than one program so that you can compare. You may just learn that that top program has an antagonistic coaching staff or practice facilities that are weak. Likewise, you may discover that an under the radar school has great team/coach dynamics and beautiful, brand new fields or courts.


3. Increase your chances of playing freshman year: When prospective athletes limit their initial contact list, yes, they may be recruited, but what if being on that team will mean sitting on the bench for a year, or two, or three? You will now be in a situation where all of the years of hard work and sacrifice in middle and high school were essentially for nothing…No one wants that do they? Playing for a program where your skills can be put to use freshman year means you’ll be happier on the field and in the classroom. 


4. Prevent last-minute recruiting and admissions disasters: It happens rarely, but when student-athletes cast too narrow a net early on, they can end up catching no fish. This means you now have zero sports opportunities and you now have to scramble to find non-athletic colleges, which may be tough if it’s past the application deadlines. Don’t let this happen to you.


5. Capitalize on your and your family’s sports investment: Let’s face it, the road to college recruitment is difficult. The travel, hotels, missed school, skills camps, and long hours of practice and games have meant sacrifice of time and money for you and parents. By limiting the number and types of colleges you have on your recruitment list, you are potentially risking that huge investment. So expand that list and reap the rewards…Remember, the goal of recruitment is to meet with success!