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Sports in College: Declaring Your Eligibility

By Peterson's Staff updated on Tuesday, January 29, 2013

If you wish to participate in sports in college at an NCAA Division I or II school, you need to register with the NCAA Eligibility Center so it can certify your academic and amateur eligibility. This organization was established to ensure consistent interpretation of NCAA initial-eligibility requirements for all prospective student-athletes.

Your eligibility also needs to be established before you can receive any athletic scholarships for college.

Starting the process
The NCAA Eligibility Center used to be known as the NCAA Initial-Eligibility Clearinghouse. Despite the name change, the website where you need to register remains the same: www.ncaaclearinghouse.net.

You should start the certification process at the beginning of your junior year, so that when you find a college, you won't be scrambling to meet requirements. Check the NCAA website (www.ncaa.org) to learn more about academic eligibility requirements and speak with your guidance counselor to make sure you're taking the courses you need.

Answering questions
You must register online and complete the Student Release Form (SRF). You'll need to provide information about yourself and your high school, indicate which sports you plan on competing in, and pay a registration fee. The SRF authorizes your high school to send any necessary academic information to the clearinghouse. It also allows the clearinghouse to release your information to colleges that request your eligibility status.

During your initial registration process, you'll also need to complete an amateurism questionnaire, which is used to help determine if you fulfill the amateur eligibility requirements. These questions will ask about your sports participation history and other issues that may affect your amateur status at college. Information is also needed in the spring of your senior year; you'll need to update and complete the questionnaire in order to request a final amateurism certification. Amateur status is a key prerequisite for sports scholarships.

Sending transcripts and scores
Your high school also plays a role in the certification process. You'll need to print both copies of the transcript release form from the NCAA Eligibility Center website, sign them, and give them to your counselor. Your counselor will mail these forms to the clearinghouse along with your high school transcript. One copy of the form and transcript should be sent as soon as possible after your initial registration. The other copy of the form and your final transcript must be sent as soon as possible after your high school graduation.

The clearinghouse also needs to receive a copy of your SAT or ACT test scores. These scores must be sent directly from the testing agency; test scores that appear on high school transcripts won't be accepted. When you register to take either test, input the code "9999" to make sure that the agency will send your scores to the clearinghouse.

When registration is not needed
If you wish to participate in sports in college at an NCAA Division III, NAIA, or NJCAA school, you do not need to register with the clearinghouse. The specific institution in which you enroll is responsible for certifying your eligibility.

About the Author

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