The NCAA Eligibility Center certifies the initial academic eligibility and amateur status of all college-bound student-athletes, domestic and international, who wish to compete in NCAA Division I or II athletics. The initial-eligibility standards for NCAA Division I college-bound student-athletes are changing. College-bound student-athletes first entering a Division I college or university on or after August 1, 2016, will need to meet new academic rules in order to receive athletically related financial aid (scholarship), practice, or compete during their first year.
Relevant Eligibility Definitions
Full Qualifier: A college-bound student-athlete who may receive a scholarship, practice, and compete in the first year of enrollment.
Academic Redshirt: A college-bound student-athlete who may receive a scholarship in the first year of enrollment and may practice in the first regular academic term (semester or quarter) but may NOT compete in the first year of enrollment. After the first term is complete, the college-bound student-athlete must be academically successful at his/her college or university to continue to practice for the rest of the academic year.
Non-Qualifier: A college-bound student-athlete who cannot receive a scholarship, practice, or compete in the first year of enrollment.
Registering with the NCAA Eligibility Center
The NCAA suggests that individuals who are interested in participating in NCAA Division I or II athletics register with the NCAA Eligibility Center during their sophomore year of high school. The steps are as follows:
What is the National Letter of Intent?
The National Letter of Intent (NLI) is a binding agreement between a prospective student-athlete and an NLI member institution that is provided in conjunction with an institution’s written offer of athletically related financial aid. The agreement confirms the following:
Once a prospect signs an NLI to attend a university, other institutions are prohibited from recruiting that prospect from that point forward. Although the recruiting process may be over once a prospect signs a NLI, the individual remains a prospective student-athlete until he or she enrolls and attends classes at the institution. The basic penalty for not fulfilling the NLI agreement is that the student-athlete will be required to serve one year in residence at the next NLI member institution he or she attends and will also lose one season of competition in all sports.
To learn more about the National Letter of Intent program, check out the NLI website here.
Eligibility for Athletically Related Financial Aid
Student-athletes must meet applicable NCAA, Big Ten, and Ohio State rules to be eligible for athletically related financial aid. If these rules are met, student-athletes may be awarded institutional financial aid during any term in which the student-athlete is in regular attendance (exceptions for final term and summer term) under the following circumstances:
What Does a Full Athletic Scholarship Cover for Student-Athletes?
What Does an Athletic Scholarship Not Cover for Student-Athletes?
To learn more about non-athletically related financial aid, please visit the Ohio State Student Financial Aid website here.
There are specific rules that govern when and in what manner coaches are permitted to communicate with prospective student-athletes. Please visit the NCAA Recruiting Guide to learn more about the rules surrounding recruitment for participation in intercollegiate athletics.
Offers and Inducements
An institution’s staff member or any representative of its athletics interests (booster) shall not be involved, directly or indirectly, in making arrangements for, or giving or offering to give, any financial aid or other benefits to a prospective student-athlete or his or her relatives or friends, other than expressly permitted by NCAA regulations. Receipt of a benefit by a prospective student-athlete or his or her relatives or friends is not a violation of NCAA legislation if it is determined that the same benefit is generally available to the institution’s prospective students, or their relatives or friends, or to a particular segment of the student body (e.g., international students, minority students) determined on a basis unrelated to athletics ability.
Examples of Impermissible Offers and Inducements:
|Free or reduced cost meals||Free or reduced cost housing||Cash, loans of money, use of a credit card|
|Transportation or the use of a vehicle||Free or reduced cost goods
(e.g., clothing, vehicles, electronics)
|Any tangible gift including birthday or holiday gifts|
|The sale or trade of any item received
as part of your participation in athletics
|Free or reduced cost services
(e.g., dry cleaning, haircuts, tattoos)
|Free or reduced cost entertainment|
A prospective student-athlete is a student who has started classes for the ninth grade (7th grade for men’s basketball). Additionally, a student who has not started classes for the ninth grade becomes a prospect if the institution provides such an individual (or the individual’s relatives or friends) any financial assistance or other benefits that the institution does not provide to prospects generally. An individual remains a prospect until he or she enrolls full-time at a four-year institution.
Recruited Prospective Student-Athlete:
A prospective student-athlete becomes a recruited prospect at an institution if: (1) the prospect takes an official visit; (2) the prospect or his or her family has an arranged, in-person, off-campus encounter with an institution’s coach; (3) an institution’s coach initiates or arranges a telephone contact with a prospect or his or her family on more than one occasion; or (4) the prospect is issued a National Letter of Intent or written offer of athletically related financial aid by the institution.
An official visit to a member institution by a prospective student-athlete is a visit financed in whole or in part by the member institution. An institution is only able to finance one official visit per prospect to its institution. A prospective student-athlete may take up to five expense paid visits to Division I institutions no earlier than the first day of classes of the prospect’s senior year in high school (exception for men’s and women’s basketball). Please note that an official visit may not last more than 48 hours.
In order for a prospective student-athlete to come on an official visit, the prospect must present the institution with:
During an unofficial visit, the institution may not pay any expenses or provide any entertainment for a prospective student-athlete except for a maximum of three complimentary admissions (issued only through a pass list) to a home athletics event. A prospect may visit a member institution’s campus at his or her expense an unlimited number of times, including before his or her senior year in high school.
Coaches are restricted in their ability to see and/or interact with a prospect in person. Restrictions are based on the prospect’s age and the associated sport’s recruiting calendar. Recruiting calendars differ by sport and are made of up of four different time periods during which varying levels of coach-to-prospect interactions are allowed.
Amateurism is the cornerstone of intercollegiate athletics. As such, as a part of the initial eligibility certification process, the NCAA certifies the amateurism of all college-bound student-athletes. In order to do so, each college-bound student-athlete must register with the NCAA Eligibility Center at http://www.eligibilitycenter.org.
As a part of the certification process, each prospective student-athlete is asked to answer a series of questions about their sports participation history. Typically, the NCAA Eligibility Center reviews the following activities:
Generally, prospective student-athletes may participate in amateur sports clubs as long as they do not receive expenses that exceed the actual and necessary expenses required to practice and/or compete. These expenses can include travel, lodging, and/or equipment for practice and competition. Additionally, a prospective student-athlete may accept prize money based on performance in an open competition as long as the prize is awarded by the sponsor of the event and the amount of the prize does not exceed the prospective student-athlete’s expenses to compete in the event.
For more information on amateurism, please visit the NCAA Amateurism website.
The NCAA and the Big Ten Conference have established specific transfer regulations for student-athletes. Student-athletes currently attending four-year institutions wishing to transfer to The Ohio State University must first obtain permission to contact from their head coach to speak with the coaches at Ohio State.
If Permission to Contact is Granted: If permission to contact is granted, the student-athlete’s current institution will send a permission to contact notice to Ohio State. At that time, it would be permissible for the coaches at Ohio State to communicate with the student-athlete about transferring. However, please note that this does not mean that the student-athlete will be released by his/her current institution to transfer to Ohio State under the one-time transfer exception. If the current institution denies the student-athlete a release under the one-time transfer exception, the student-athlete has the right to request an appeal hearing regarding with such decision. The request for such an appeal must be made in writing to the Director of Athletics within seven business days of the denial.
If Permission to Contact is Denied If permission to contact is denied, the current institution will notify the student-athlete in writing that he/she has the right to request an appeal hearing on such a denial. The request for such an appeal must be made in writing to the Director of Athletics within seven days of the denial.
For a guide on the different rules surrounding transferring, please visit the NCAA Transfer Guide
Additionally, the Big Ten Conference has established intra-conference transfer rules. If a student-athlete is enrolled at a Big Ten institution and subsequently transfers to another Big Ten institution, that student-athlete must serve a year in residence at the alternate Big Ten institution and will lose one season on eligibility in all sports.