I had dreams of being a college track star. Unfortunately, winning a few races in my small high school league didn’t really translate to college-level competition. So, I settled for college intramurals and the occasional weekend half marathon.
But if you’ve got what it takes to be a college athlete, there are some steps you need to take to get there. As you probably know, most colleges belong to a college athletics association. These are the governing bodies created to regulate and support college athletes. The National College Athletic Association, or NCAA, is the most well-known.
The NCAA emphasizes being a student-athlete—not just an athlete. So, if you want to play college sports in an NCAA school, there are academic qualifications you must meet. Your eligibility to play is determined by the combination of your successful graduation from high school, your GPA, and either SAT or ACT scores.
If your college entrance exam of choice was the SAT, you will need to know how to send SAT scores to the NCAA. I’ll walk you through it.
In order to be eligible to pursue NCAA college sports, you must first register with the NCAA Eligibility Center. The NCAA only accepts official SAT scores straight from College Board. There are two ways to send your score reports to the NCAA Eligibility Center.
When you register to take the SAT, you have the option of sending up to 4 free score reports to the colleges or scholarship programs of your choice. You may choose the NCAA as one of your free score report recipients.
To select the NCAA as one of your recipients when registering, you can search for NCAA on the interface, allowing you to search for colleges. You may also search the College Board SAT Code List, or we can do things the easy way and I can just tell you the code—it’s 9999. When given the option to enter your desired college or scholarship program code, enter score recipient code “9999,” and those scores will be on their way roughly 10 days after scores are released.
If you need to select more than four recipients, there is an additional $12 fee per score report.
If you have already taken the SAT and need to send your scores to the NCAA Eligibility Center, you have a couple options:
Remember, if you qualified for a fee waiver when you took the SAT test, you are able to send an unlimited number of free score reports. Check with your high school counselor to find out if you are eligible.
Before you send your SAT scores to NCAA, make sure you understand the requirements to be a student athlete at these colleges. When you register with the NCAA Eligibility Center, your eligibility will be determined by the following:
The National College Athletic Association was not just created for college sports programs. It was created to support athletes who are also students. The organization acknowledges that most student-athletes will not go pro in their sport.
The NCAA website states, “Nearly 8 million students currently participate in high school athletics in the United States. More than 480,000 compete as NCAA athletes, and just a select few within each sport move on to compete at the professional or Olympic level.”
Because of this, it is important to the organization that they support students in their education. Most student-athletes will, one day, enter a career based off of their college degree, not their college sport. An important part of their mission is to “help [athletes] in succeeding on the biggest court of all…life.”
The NCAA sets eligibility requirements because it is important that their athletes be up for the challenge of what may be the more important part of their college experience—academics. This is the reason GPAs and SAT test scores are required for entrance into an NCAA athletic program.
It’s never too early to start planning if you are college-bound. If your desire is to be an NCAA college athlete, make sure you are working on your eligibility requirements as soon as you start high school. Talk with your school counselor to make sure you are taking the right course work. And make sure you put as much effort into your studies and SAT test preparation as you do your jump-shots. To be a student-athlete, and to succeed in life, you need balance. Work hard on the court, on the field, and in the classroom.