December 6, 2007

Recruiting Paperwork per the NCAA

Part of being effectively recruited as a Prospective Student Athlete (PSA) is taking care of the various paperwork issues as required by the NCAA and member institutions. While this seems rather routine, it can be something that can cause some headaches if not done in a timely matter.

Per my previous posts, the Junior year of high school is when a PSA typically should be ramping up their end of the recruiting effort and thus, the paperwork process. A few items of concern:

1. Register with the NCAA Clearinghouse at This is the Eligibility Center for the NCAA, which certifies if you are eligible to play NCAA Athletics because of your academics. This site should answer any questions you may have about being or becoming eligible to play in college. As part of the process you will need to submit current transcripts, available ACT or SAT test scores, along with pay a fee for registering.

It is important that registration occur during your Junior year, because you want to stay away from the build up of registrations that occur late in the Senior year or the incoming freshman summer when there is a rush of registrations. Typically the NCAA gets swamped with documents/registrations for football players from big name programs and they will receive priority over volleyball players.

FYI - per NCAA rules, you can practice for a certain number of days without NCAA Clearinghouse Final Certification, but you cannot compete or travel.

1A. A new component of the NCAA Clearinghouse is the Amateur Certification. The NCAA has removed the responsibility of determining a player's amateur status from member institutions (colleges/universities) - for USA athletes, this is merely a formality and you just answer a few simple questions. For International student athletes, you must be very careful and specific about how you answer the questions on the computer, mainly because of volleyball cultural differences.

2. Have a current Official High School Transcript and SAT/ACT test score at your home, to make copies for any colleges that request one. Even though you may have already submitted these documents to the NCAA Clearinghouse, many colleges need to have a copy for their files. Get a new set of Transcripts each semester that show grades and currently enrolled classes.

Also, if you are a Division II athlete and part of your scholarship is supported via academics, then the coaches will need current documents for their Financial Aid office. If you are a Division I athlete, then the coaches should be reviewing your transcript to make sure you are on track to attain the correct number of Core Courses.

3. Make sure you submit your Final Official High School Transcript upon graduation to the NCAA Clearinghouse - too many athletes forget this critical detail and have a delay in their certification. Dealing with this situation is not a fun thing for college coaches to do - don't make your new coach mad!

Once you select/commit to your new school, then another set of paperwork must be completed that is school specific:

1. Application for Admissions - Most schools will not move forward in any fashion with any processing until they have received your Application for Admissions. Some schools have a fee associated with this Application while others do not. With this Application you will be told to send/attach Official Transcripts and Test scores.

Some schools may require additional entrance tests as per their admissions policy - for instance, the University of California system requires the SAT II as part of their admissions practice.

2. Housing Application - Typically, the sooner you get this into the system, the better your chances of obtaining the residence style of your choice. Per NCAA rules, the schools should not be setting aside specific housing for athletes/sports, but somehow the football and basketball teams seem to garner the best buildings to live in - we can't beat that, but you can get your information and Application Fee (this is critical) into the system quickly to secure your choice.

3. Health Insurance verification will need to be sent to the Athletic Training room at your new school - this is just about mandatory because of insurance costs for all schools and if you don't have this on file, then you won't be allowed to practice.

4. Have your Final High School Transcript sent to your school immediately upon graduation.

5. Academic preferences or enrollment information forms. Again, each school handles enrollment (registering for classes) differently, but many times this enrollment may be the responsibility of non-athletic department staff/counselors that would like some background information about your academic interests and anticipated daily schedule. Sometimes the academic side of campus and the athletic side of campus don't communicate very well - even though you may have already provided all this information to your coach or athletic department academic person, the Ivory Tower (a term for those that are pure academics) will want their own information.

6. Complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid or the FAFSA, This is the paperwork process that allows many schools to determine scholarship and non-scholarship financial support - even for international student athletes. Loans, Pell Grants, in-state academic money, NCAA Special Assistance funds and a host of other money opportunities are all routed through the completion of the FAFSA form.

Like any large organization, the NCAA and the member schools will have plenty of paperwork that needs to be taken care of as part of your association. The longer you wait on this paperwork, the more of a hassle it becomes for everyone. Hopefully this head's up on the various forms that will be facing you as part of your journey will make it a touch easier.

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