When the NCAA updated its Eligibility Center website in November 2016, the goal was to make it “a lot easier for students to navigate,” says Gretchen Morin, Coordinator of Eligibility Center Communications.
Updates include Help sections and FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) on each page; and a module to let students track their progress through eligibility certification. These new features are especially significant since eligibility rules have also been recently modified: as of 2016, students must complete a specific progression of core courses during their high school years, and meet minimum GPA and test scores, per a sliding scale.
“We also wanted to streamline the registration process,” says Morin, so profile questions were eliminated or revised “to get just the information we need.” Students can now quickly complete registration and start using the website.
Wanting to encourage student-athletes to use the website earlier in their high school careers led to another update: the Profile Page, an alternate (and free) registration option to the existing Certification Account (which requires a fee).
The Profile Page is a preliminary account designed to help high school freshmen and sophomore student-athletes “get into our system and get into the communication flow,” says NCAA Director Nick Sproull. “We can make sure they know and understand the rules earlier in the process.”
“Later,” says Sproull, “if a student-athlete is being recruited by a Division I or Division II college or university, they can easily transition that account from a free Profile Page to a paid Certification Account to be certified for eligibility.”
To open either type of account, students need to have a reliable email and complete a personal profile that includes their age, contact information, and high school data. They can also begin to record their sports history; this will facilitate any subsequent transition later from the Profile Page to the Certification Account.
(Note: students who participate in Division III college sports do not need to be certified.)
In addition to opening a Profile Page, student-athletes can chat with their own high school and club coaches to get feedback and insight on the recruiting process. For academic eligibility guidance, students should also speak with their school counselors.
Since there is no cost involved to setting up a Profile Page, “we really encourage freshmen and sophomores to go ahead and sign up for that Profile Page account right away,” says Sproull. “The first day of ninth grade is not too early.”