NCAA Locked Credits May Lock Student Athletes Out of College

NCAA Locked Credits May Lock Student Athletes Out of College

Mike Kostoff, M.A. Ed

Founder of Total Student Athlete –

Author of WIN ALL FOUR – A Guide and Workbook for College Athletic Eligibility


c49605cf2145b68c209fac23d7cf5658The Class of 2016 is entering their senior year with great hopes, dreams and excitement. A large number of seniors will pursue their dream of becoming a college athlete. Too many of these students may fail to fulfill the new NCAA DI academic requirements and fail to fulfill their dreams. These seniors are the first group of student athletes required to complete 10 “locked credits” by the end of their junior year. These “locked credits” must be NCAA approved core classes and 7 of the 10 credits must be completed in ELA, math and science. 9th and 10th grade NCAA core class grades now have a direct impact on achieving NCAA DI academic eligibility.


This new requirement stops the practice of seniors repeating classes for a higher grade to increase their core GPA. Most students will have earned the credits but low grades (Cs, Ds) will have a direct impact on the students NCAA core GPA. This NCAA core GPA determines the required ACT/SAT test score on the NCAA DI sliding scale. The lower the NCAA core GPA, the higher the required test score. Now every grade and every class in high school will count.


16 NCAA Core Credits Required for all D1 Student Athletes – All NCAA core classes at one’s high school are used to calculate the NCAA core GPA. After the junior year, the only addition to the core GPA will be the last 6 core credits needed to fulfill the 16 core credit requirements. Students that fail to earn the NCAA Core 10 Locked Credits will not be able to qualify for an NCAA D1 scholarship. It’s critical every student athlete has an academic game plan, tracks their NCAA core GPA and NCAA core classes. It’s critical student athletes understand the need to WIN ALL FOUR.


New NCAA DI Locked Credits:

  1. A student must earn 10 of the required 16 core classes by the end of the junior year.
  2. 7 of the 10 credits must be in English, math and science.
  3. Changing the grades of these “locked credits” is not allowed. Any type of credit recovery retaking a class for a better grade is not allowed after the junior year.


A second NCAA academic requirement for 2016 is an increase in the NCAA Core GPA from a 2.0 to a 2.3. Students now must achieve a minimum of a 2.3 NCAA core GPA (along with a 700 SAT / 75(19) ACT) to earn full qualifier status and have the ability to compete as a freshman. An ACADEMIC REDSHIRT is a new status D1 athletes earn if the core GPA between a 2.0-2.29. Students that fall in this classification can sign an athletic scholarship and practice, but one cannot play in a game (defined as competition) during their first year.


A Paradigm Shift Needed for College Recruiting & Preparation – WIN ALL FOUR

The Class of 2016 may have a larger number of student athletes fail to achieve their college athletic dreams than in past years. These are the players I remember looking back as a college football recruiter. These student-athletes didn’t truly understand becoming a college recruit was a four-year process. Most remember hearing about a “eligibility thing” and hearing their coaches and counselors talking about grades but that’s as far as it went. They just felt recruiting was all about their abilities to play the game. We all know the often short-sightedness, invincible attitude of adolescents. The student-athletes are part of what I call the “restart generation.”

These student-athletes, like their peers, have grown up in the video game era where they can create and control all aspects of the game. If the game is not going like he or she wishes, simply hit the reset and start over again. This “restart” attitude has carried over into every aspect of students lives and for a large number of them this attitude is hurting their future. I believe it is critical we educate student-athletes and the parents the impact of academics on recruiting during the middle school years. They need to understand becoming a college recruit is a four-year process and every day of high school counts.

A transcript is the student-athletes resume to college athletics. This “resume” can determine if an athlete will be a college recruit. The goal for each card marking has to be a 3+. The first question asked by every recruiter is “What is the player’s GPA and class rank?” The higher one’s GPA and class rank, the greater the number of athletic opportunities will be made available to you. The lower the GPA and class rank, the fewer opportunities will be available. Use the dream of college athletics along with the NCAA Division I academic standards for all young student-athletes. College recruiting is not just for the DI, blue-chip athlete. These athletes are the elites and the minority of college recruiting. Academic progress starts the first day of every athlete’s freshman year and students must WIN ALL FOUR. A player’s abilities for the different levels of college will not be determined until their junior and senior years.

The majority of DIII athletes cannot afford the tuition unless they have the opportunity to earn academic scholarships to help defray the cost of private education. (Remember, most DIII schools are private and all are non-athletic scholarship). The NCAA academic standards can be a motivational tool for all young athletes. Instill these young athletes with the importance of their GPA, explain how the sliding scale works, emphasis how poor school attendance may have a negative impact on any possible recruitment, etc. It is critical to start with 8th graders, teaching the rules of recruiting and the importance to WIN ALL FOUR in the classroom. Waiting until the junior year may be too late for most. Our job as educators is to ensure the student-athlete understands how to qualify for college recruitment every step of the way. I believe implementing this approach can be a powerful motivational tool for middle school and high school student-athletes. High school is a time and place for our students to dream and dream big. For student-athletes, the dream of college athletics can be the force that pushes 8th, 9th and 10th grades to academic success. College recruiters would hear less about the problems the athletes had in the 9th grade and these athletes wouldn’t have to learn there isn’t a “reset” button for your high school transcripts.

In the end, this approach will simply produce senior student-athletes with a “resume” to become a college student. Recruiting for college athletics is time consuming and at times very confusing. There are a number of resources available. One that I believe will benefit all high school student-athletes, parents, coaches and counselors is my guide and workbook, “Win All Four,” for athletes seeking college. This book can be carried and used throughout a student-athlete’s 740 days of high school. The book is a simple read with an overview of the recruiting process and with checklists, guidelines, and worksheets the student-athlete can use through their four years in high school.






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