Short Summary of the NCAA Rules & Regulations for All Student-Athletes

At Leaders of Evolution, we adhere to rules and regulations provided by the NCAA. We are proud partners with NCAA colleges and universities helping their athletes become better leaders. To be the most effective leaders, student-athletes must be aware of the rules and regulations of the NCAA. We summarised the NCAA rules and regulations for student-athletes.

NCAA Rules & Regulations for Student-Athletes | Leaders of Evolution

Summary of the NCAA Rules and Regulations for Student-Athletes

In order to participate in NCAA sports, all athletes must agree to the NCAA rules and regulations. These guidelines outline their eligibility to compete in the university’s athletic program and apply differently based on their schools. For example, the guidelines for Division I students differ from those of Division II or Division III. The guidelines for new athletes are different from those of returning or transfer students.

All athletes, including new, transfer, and returning students, must agree to regulations based on ethical policies, amateurism, financial aid, and academic standards. For the purpose of clarity, the following rules are general guidelines for NCAA Division I athletes and are subject to change based on specific cases. 

Ethical Conduct

The first regulation stated by the NCAA discusses a students’ ethical conduct. Students must agree to holding high ethical standards on and off the sports field. They must be honest and fair when completing information relevant to an NCAA violation investigation and in all other aspects of competitive sports. Student-athletes are forbidden to participate in any form of gambling on intercollegiate or professional sports. If athletes are proven to have disobeyed these regulations, they will not be eligible to participate in their respective sport.


The second requirement for NCAA student-athletes deals with amateurism. This rule states that they are not eligible to compete at the collegiate level if they have been compensated in pay or have agreed to/played for any professional athletic teams. In other words, they need to be classified as amateurs in their respective sport and cannot have benefited financially for participating in said sport. Compensation can include accepting money, transportation or other benefits from a professional athletic department.

Financial Aid

The third NCAA regulation deals with financial aid. This states that student-athletes may only receive financial aid from the institution that they are a part of. There are three exceptions to this rule however. They are eligible to participate in their respective sport if they receive financial aid from anyone whom they are a natural or legal dependent of, if the aid is awarded on a basis other than athletics, or if the aid is from an institution that is accepted by the Division I Manual.

Employment Earnings

The NCAA discusses employment earnings, which is any earnings that a student receives from sports and does not impact their financial aid determination. This states that financial aid or grant scholarships will not be determined by their athletic publicity, reputation, fame or personal following. Also, this states that athletes must be compensated at a fair and equal rate in that location for similar services.

Academic Standards

These NCAA regulations guide outlines specifically what the academic standards are for athletes to be eligible to compete or to practice, for returning or for first-year students, and as a nonqualifier student. In order to compete in their respective sport and practice, they must have been admitted based on the requirements of said institution, be in good academic standards and be enrolled in at least a full-time, 12 credit semester working towards a degree program. While this is the general requirement, there are some exceptions to this rule. For example, those who are enrolled part-time in university are still eligible to compete if they are enrolled in their last term of the degree program.

The NCAA regulations for first-year students differ from those of returning students. Under these rules, freshmen are eligible to participate and compete if they have graduated from high school, attained a minimum GPA specified by the NCAA Division I Bylaw, or achieved a corresponding ACT or SAT score also specified by the Bylaw.

There are some other regulations concerning eligibility that are laid out for all sports. For example, they are not eligible to participate in more than four seasons of a singular intercollegiate sport. This regulation explains the eligibility for one-time transfer students. The NCAA rules and regulations list also clearly define the no drug policy for all students participating in all sports.

NCAA Rules & Regulations for New Student-Athletes ONLY

NCAA Rules & Regulations for Student-Athletes | Leaders of Evolution

For students leaving high school and starting their college athletic careers, there are specific NCAA rules and regulations. These regulations outline recruitment, including policies for their publicity, signing letters of intent, participating in sports camps, and scheduling official visits to college campuses and athletic facilities.


As recruitment is a very important part of the athlete’s process, there are many NCAA regulations that must be followed to ensure that neither universities, athletic programs, nor the students themselves are breaking any rules. If any are violated, they are not eligible to compete in any practice or form of competition in their respective sport. 

There are specific dates that students are not able to be contacted by campus institutions. For all NCAA Division I sports, except for women’s ice hockey and women’s gymnastics, the first day for institutions to reach out to potential players is July 1. For women’s ice hockey, they are not eligible to compete in their sport if they are contacted before July 7, and July 15 for women’s gymnastics.

NCAA Student-Athlete Leadership & Career Readiness

NCAA Rules & Regulations for Student-Athletes | Leaders of Evolution

At Leaders of Evolution, we are determined to help build successful athletes and make their transition to higher-level sports easier. While this is just a brief summary, there is much more in-depth information that can be useful when deciding to play a sport in college.

For more information download our NCAA Student-Athlete Leadership & Career Readiness Prospectus.

student leadership, athlete development, Learning Management System

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Leaders of Evolution are passionate about education. We expertly design and deliver technology enhanced e-learning courses focused on leadership, social and emotional learning, career readiness and sports coaching for students, teachers, athletes, coaches and the wider community.

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Rachel Richards

Interested in sports communication and digital media. Rachel loves to travel with her family, and go to concerts and music festivals with her friends. She is always interested in discovering local coffee shops and drinks tea with every meal.

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