Interested in playing sports in college? You need to know this!

So you want to be a college athlete?   The goal of the Athletic Director in creating this page is to provide you with information that will be a starting point in your pursuit of your athletic dream.  Your high school coach and the AD can help you get started, but the hard work will be up to you!  Know that involvement in college sports is much like having a full-time job at the same time you are attending college on a full-time basis .  Many find the time commitment to be overwhelming.  But if you are going to dream, dream big!  Set your sights high and reach for the stars.  This is a goal that you may find worthwhile to pursue, and it can help you earn a college education at the same time.

For 93% of high school athletes, high school sports are a terminal experience, meaning that only 7 of 100 athletes will compete in college sports.  While 7% may participate in college sports, only 2% of high school athletes will receive an athletic scholarship.  Additionally, only 1 out of 100 high school athletes will play at the NCAA D-1 level.  If you are interested in playing college sports, there is a lot you need to do to prepare.

According to the National Collegiate Athletic Association (or the NCAA), getting ready for college sports is a four-step process while still attending high school:

1.Plan (Grade 9), 2. Register (Grade 10), 3. Study (Grade 11), 4. Graduate (Grade 12)

If participating in college sports at the highest levels is your goal, then the first stop for you should be the NCAA Eligibility Center. Here , you can check out how to plan and ensure you are eligible for sports once you enroll in college.  Things that go into NCAA eligibility include your GPA in core classes, but in order for your grades in a particular course to count, that course must be approved by the NCAA Clearinghouse.  The link above can help you determine if you are eligible to participate your first year in college.

You can also download a brochure to help you and your parents understand the definition of core courses, testing requirements and the difference in eligibility standards for each of the three NCAA Classifications (D-I, D-II, and D-III).  Besides eligibility, there are other differences between classifications; for instance, did you know that D-III schools do not offer athletic scholarships?  If you want to know more about the NCAA and its schools, click on the following links for information about your future with the NCAA or answers to frequently asked questions.

Another option for high school athletes who want to continue their athletic careers in college may be the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics, or the NAIA.  The NAIA has different eligibility requirements than the NCAA.  You need to meet two of three criteria: 2.0 or greater GPA at graduation, a score of 18 or greater on the ACT, graduation in the top 50% of your class.  You can find  more information on how to register for NAIA eligibility here.  It is important to note that many NAIA schools are small, faith-based institutions, but not all are. In addition, Johnson & Wales University in Denver is Colorado’s only NAIA school.  For more information about sports offered, or to find information about a NAIA school that might be a good fit for you, visit the NAIA search site here.

The other option available to you to play college sports is junior college.  Several two-year junior colleges offer athletics and are an option if you don’t meet the standard for the NCAA or NAIA or you have other reasons not to attend a 4-year college right away.  The National Junior College Athletic Association, or the NJCAA, has its own standards for eligibility.   You can also visit the site’s Frequently Asked Questions page to get more information.

So, as you can see, there is a lot that goes in to becoming a college athlete.  The best thing you can do to prepare yourself is to educate yourself.  Investigate each of the associations that offer college sports and research those schools that might be a good fit for you, academically and athletically.  Then pursue that dream of playing sports in college!  Good luck as you reach for those stars!!

NFHS Free Course-

This course is designed to educate high school coaches, administrators, and parents about the NCAA’s initial-eligibility requirements. After completing the course, you will be more knowledgeable and prepared to advise your student-athletes about the NCAA initial-eligibility standards, as well as the steps student-athletes need to complete in order to compete in NCAA Divisions I and II athletics.