About Eligibility

Commitment to academic achievement and adherence to member-created rules are vital parts of the NCAA’s mission to integrate athletics into the fabric of higher education. NCAA member schools create rules to ensure that the Association’s 430,000 student-athletes compete on equal footing. Various NCAA committees and the national office staff members work to make sure rules are applied fairly.

Remaining Eligible


Amateur competition is a bedrock principle of college athletics and the NCAA. Maintaining amateurism is crucial to preserving an academic environment in which acquiring a quality education is the first priority. In the collegiate model of sports, the young men and women competing on the field or court are students first, athletes second.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is amateurism certification and why is it so important?

The amateurism certification process ensures that incoming Division I or II student-athletes meet NCAA amateurism requirements. Membership established the process to bring about national uniformity and fairness. Most prospective student-athletes who fully complete the process are certified.

How long has the amateurism certification process been in place?

The NCAA Eligibility Center’s amateurism certification staff began certifying amateurism for fall 2007 enrollees. Individual schools previously were responsible for determining that prospective student-athletes met NCAA amateurism requirements.

Is everyone eventually certified as eligible?

Prospective student-athletes may be certified as eligible, or eligible with conditions (for example, a penalty), or as ineligible. Generally, a relatively small number of prospective student-athletes are determined to be ineligible or placed under review. “Ineligible” means the prospective student-athlete cannot play Division I or II sports. “Under review” means further investigation is needed to determine a prospective student-athlete’s amateur status. About 97,000 prospective student-athletes are certified each year.

What role does the school play in amateurism certification?

School involvement is a must. In fact, the amateurism certification staff and the school must agree upon the facts before any interpretive, appeal or reinstatement requests can be made.

What role does the prospective student-athlete play?

Prospective student-athletes, including international students, must follow NCAA amateurism rules. Their first step is to go online to register with the NCAA Eligibility Center at www.eligibilitycenter.org, where they provide information about their amateur status.

The NCAA membership has adopted amateurism rules to ensure the students’ priority remains on obtaining a quality educational experience and that all of student-athletes are competing equitably.

All incoming student-athletes must be certified as amateurs. With global recruiting becoming more common, determining the amateur status of prospective student-athletes can be challenging. All student-athletes, including international students, are required  to adhere to NCAA amateurism requirements to remain eligible for intercollegiate competition.

In general, amateurism requirements do not allow:

  • Contracts with professional teams
  • Salary for participating in athletics
  • Prize money above actual and necessary expenses
  • Play with professionals
  • Tryouts, practice or competition with a professional team
  • Benefits from an agent or prospective agent
  • Agreement to be represented by an agent
  • Delayed initial full-time collegiate enrollment to participate in organized sports competition

Additional information regarding NCAA amateurism rules is available on the NCAA Eligibility Center’s website by clicking on the “Resources” link at the top of the page. Another resource is the Guide for the College Bound Student-Athlete.


Last Updated: Dec 26, 2013