Student Life

NCAA's Clearinghouse Rules - Who's Looking Out for the Student-Athlete?

Richard Pound

April 21, 2009

NCAA's Clearinghouse Rules - Who's Looking Out for the Student-Athlete?
Who's Looking Out for the Student Athlete?

The Devil's in the Details

I once worked with a young man whom I will call "John". John was a tremendously skilled and dedicated high school wrestler.  He wasn't a first-rate student; put simply, John's performance on the mat far overshadowed his performance in the classroom.

John came from a modest background. His parents supported him in all his scholastic and athletic pursuits, but neither served as a role model for classroom excellence, as neither graduated high school. Throughout his high school career, John worked hard to earn "C's" and the rare "B".  He knew that he was a good wrestler, but he never envisioned a wrestling scholarship in his future.  So he never really put forth the effort to prepare himself for the NCAA Clearinghouse's stringent requirements or the rigors of a college campus.

Lo and behold, John's hard work paid off, and he became one of the best wrestlers in the state. He received many phone calls and letters from Division I college coaches interested in offering him a wrestling scholarship.
John never received even one such offer.  The absence of college offers had nothing to do with his ability.  John, his parents, his school counselor, and his coach failed to keep track of the Clearinghouse rules.  As a result, John was declared ineligible for D-I consideration.

Here's what happened; it's a "cautionary tale" that bears consideration and action.  Some of John's classes were not listed on the Clearinghouse's List of Approved Core Courses.  Still others were assigned a credit level below NCAA standards. For example, John completed a Math class that was given only a .67 credit by the Clearinghouse while John’s academic advisors mistakenly assumed it was granted a full 1.0 credit.

Bottom line: John, and all the people who were in a position to understand and control this process, dropped the ball. Given the financial impact of this oversight—conservatively, tens of thousands of dollars—student-athletes, parents, coaches, and school administrators would do well to pay close attention to the NCAA's requirements.

The final chapter of this tale has yet to be written.  I cannot be sure how the story will end, but I can make strong recommendations for how we can prevent it from happening to other student-athletes.  Here's how.

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