New England Secondary School Consortium

NCAA Eligibility

Over the past decade, the movement to adopt proficiency-based approaches to teaching, learning, and graduating has gained momentum throughout New England and the country, as more educators, parents, employers, and elected officials recognize that high educational standards and strong academic preparation are essential to success in today’s world.

With some schools wondering what potential impact proficiency-based education may have on their students’ NCAA Division I and II eligibility, the New England Secondary School Consortium reached out to NCAA directly to gain clarity on the matter.

During this discussion, the NCAA assured that the achievement of student-athletes from schools with proficiency-based transcripts will be reviewed using the same process employed for all students regardless of the format of their transcripts.

Below, you’ll find a letter from Nick Sproull, Director of the NCAA Eligibility Center and High School Review, further explaining the NCAA’s stance on proficiency-based transcripts and eligibility.

Dear New England Secondary School Consortium:

The National Collegiate Athletic Association is focused on the well-being and life-long success of student-athletes. Supporting college athletes as they work toward graduation is a top priority of everyone involved in college sports, and NCAA member colleges and universities have a responsibility to prepare student-athletes to excel both on and off the field of play.  

Consistent with these beliefs, the NCAA advises parents, K-12 educators, college admissions officers, and the general public that when certifying the initial eligibility of Division I and II student-athletes, the Eligibility Center:

  • Accepts a wide range of student transcripts as long as they meet stated NCAA requirements and provide a full and accurate presentation of the course of study and what a college applicant has learned and accomplished;   
  • Expects school leaders to use the NCAA Eligibility Center high school portal to clearly describe and translate the grading system used by the school to enable the NCAA staff to process and make decisions on student athletic eligibility; and;  
  • Assures student-athletes from schools with proficiency-based transcripts that their learning achievement will be reviewed using the same process employed for all students regardless of the format of their transcripts, provided the school meets the previously-stated requirements.   

Like the New England Secondary School Consortium, the NCAA supports strong academic preparation for postsecondary study, leading to increased collegiate enrollments and higher college completion rates.  

Respectfully submitted,   

Nick Sproull, Ed.D
Director, NCAA Eligibility Center and High School Review


Steps to Ensure NCAA Eligibility 

Students who learn in a proficiency-based system and have a proficiency-based transcript will not have any issues with athletic eligibility because of their learning environment or transcript. (A student’s poor academic performance may impact eligibility, but this is the case for students in any school, regardless of that school’s instructional model.)

While the Eligibility Center assured that students from proficiency-based learning systems will not be disadvantaged, there a few pieces of information you should know and steps that you should take proactively to ensure this:

  • While your school may provide a transcript with learning standards broken out, the NCAA does require course grades. Knowing that many parents also desire this information, we would recommend that your transcript include course grades. A transcript that would meet these requirements can be found here on the Great Schools Partnership website.
  • Transcripts certainly may contain narrative grades, proficiency descriptors, etc., but the Eligibility Center can only enter courses that include letter grades, or numeric grades with a conversion to letter grades.
  • All numeric grades must be converted to a letter scale (A, B, C, D, F). This is true for all schools irrespective of their instructional or curricular model. Schools must translate course grades if they are on a 0–100 point scale or a 1–4 point scale. All grades are recorded as a letter without any “+” or “-”  added. Schools do not need to use all of the letter grades noted above.
  • Schools need to provide the NCAA with a conversion if they use numeric grades. If a school does not provide a conversion, the NCAA will use a generic translation that may or may not be a true representation of the student’s grade or capacity. For example, if a school provides a pass/fail grade and does not provide a conversion, a passing grade will be translated into the lowest passing grade, most often a “D”. If you believe a 3 represents the equivalent of a “B” in the traditional grading system, you should notify them of this conversion. Also, if you use gradations and believe a 3.75 represents an “A”, again, you need to provide this scale. Bottom line: the school is responsible for informing the NCAA of conversions.
  • To update your grading scales with the Eligibility Center, please follow these instructions. (Note: The email address listed in these directions is used only for submitting information to the High School Review staff and is not intended for customer service or support.)
  • Before submitting grading scale conversions, please review the information in your NCAA high school account. Every high school account in the NCAA system can be searched and viewed here. Your school account shows a host of publicly available information including:
    • High school account status
    • Basic high school information, including website and contact information
    • Grading scales and weighted grading scales (if applicable)
    • Core course categories (e.g., approved, denied, information needed, etc.)
    • Additional information, which may include narrative information relevant to the certification process.

(Note: This information is intentionally public in order to protect the integrity of the system. We recommend that you review the information about your school on this website to ensure its accuracy. Schools may log in to their account here. There are directions on this page if you need help logging in.)

  • If you have any additional questions, you are encouraged to call the NCAA customer service line for high school administrators at 877-233-2321 (877-NCAA-EC1).

Download the letter from Nick Sproull, Ed.D

Additional resources about implementing a proficiency-based learning system