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Prospective Student-Athletes

This website has been set up to help educate prospective student-athletes and their families about NCAA rules and what they need to know in order to be eligible to compete for Tennessee State University. Below are several links to the NCAA Eligibility Center, National Letter of Intent, SAT and ACT websites, and much more. All prospective student-athletes should visit each site and become familiar with the requirements to participate as a Division I student-athlete. This information may not cover every question that arises; however, it is designed to give a general description and hopefully answer some specific questions. One of the best sources of information can be found on our link to the Guide for the College-Bound Student-Athlete. This guide will assist prospective student-athletes in navigating not only through the Eligibility Center process, but also in recruiting situations and standardized testing. If you have any questions about NCAA rules, please contact the Athletic Compliance Office.

WANT TO PLAY SPORTS?

Want to Play College Sports? To play DI sports at Tennessee State University, you need to qualify academically. To meet the minimum requirements for student-athletes enrolling in college in August 2016 or later you must:

  • Graduate from high school
  • Complete 16 Core Courses, including 10 core courses before your seventh semester (before you begin 12th grade)
  • Earn a minimum 2.300 Grade-Point Average (GPA) in the core courses to compete in your first year of college
  • Earn a combined SAT or ACT score that matches your core-course GPA on the sliding scale.

CORE COURSES

NCAA member schools require incoming student-athletes to build a foundation of high school courses that will best prepare them for the academic expectations in college. For a complete list of your high school’s NCAA core courses, visit www.eligibilitycenter.org.

 To play Division I sports, you must earn 16 core courses.
  • Ten of the 16 core courses must be completed prior to the seventh semester. Those ten courses are “locked in” and can’t be retaken to improve the grade-point average.
  • Seven of those 10 must be a combination of English, math or natural/physical science that fulfills the overall distribution requirements listed below.
  • If you don’t earn 10 courses before your seventh semester, you are still eligible to practice and receive a scholarship, but you can’t compete your first academic year (two full-time semesters).

 

CORE COURSE REQUIREMENTS

  • 4 years of English.
  • 3 years of mathematics (Algebra I or higher).
  • 2 years of natural/physical science (1 year of lab if offered by high school).
  • 1 year of additional English, mathematics or natural/physical science.
  • 2 years of social science.
  • 4 years of additional courses (from any area above, foreign language or comparative religion/philosophy).

 

GRADE POINT-AVERAGE (GPA)

Incoming student-athletes must present a grade-point average that predicts academic success at the collegiate  level.

  • Beginning August 1, 2016, you must earn at least a 2.300 GPA in NCAA core courses to be eligible to compete in your first year of college.
  • To get a scholarship and practice, you must earn at least a 2.000 GPA in NCAA core courses.
  • Only courses that appear on your high school's list of NCAA courses will be used to calculate your GPA for NCAA eligibility purposes. For a complete list of your school's courses, visit www.eligibilitycenter.org.
  • Once ten core courses are "locked in" prior to the start of your seventh semester, you can't take those classes over again to improve your GPA.
  • Division I uses a sliding scale to match test scores and core GPAs.

TEST SCORES

Data shows that while GPA is a better predictor of collegiate success than test scores, using the two in combination is the best method. The NCAA continues to emphasize GPA over test scores when assessing college preparedness.

  • Division I uses a sliding scale to match test scores and core-course grade-point averages to determine eligibility.
  • The NCAA uses only the critical reading and math SAT scores to determine eligibility. The writing score is not used.
  • The NCAA uses only the sum of English, math, reading and science ACT scores to determine eligibility.

Eligibility Toolkit (Quick Reference Materials)

Informational Guides

Presentations and Courses

National Letter of Intent (NLI)

NLI Signing Dates

Prospective Student-Athletes Signing in 2019-2020 and Enrolling the 2020-2021 academic year:
*UPDATED* NLI SIGNING RESUMES ON APRIL 15, 2020
Sport Initial Signing Date Final Signing Date
Basketball (Early Period) November 13, 2019 November 20, 2019
Cross Country, Golf, Softball, Tennis, Track & Field, Volleyball November 13, 2019 August 1, 2020
Football (Early Period) December 18, 2019 December 20, 2019
Football (Midyear JC Transfer) December 18, 2019 January 15, 2020
Football (Regular Period) February 5, 2020 August 1, 2020
Basketball (Regular Period) April 15, 2020 August 1, 2020

Other Communications Tools and Links

Graduation Success Rate (GSR) Report

Did You Know?

So you are aware, NCAA rules and regulations prohibit coaches and administrative personnel from sending letters or electronic mail to high school students or his/her parents or legal guardians until after September 1 of their junior year in high school (In men's basketball, it is permissible to provide recruiting materials to a prospect after June 15 at the end of his sophomore year in high school). While we are not permitted to write or e-mail high school students if they are not eligible per the above restriction, high school students are permitted to telephone coaches and administrators prior to the completion of their junior year in high school, but only at the high school student's expense.

Prospective student-athletes are also permitted to contact the Admissions Office for information regarding Tennessee State University and its academic programs at any time. You may call our Admissions Office at (615) 963-5101 or visit the Admissions website.

TRANSFERS

FOUR-YEAR TRANSFERS (4-4): If you are a student-athlete enrolled at another four-year institution or if you have been enrolled at another four-year institution in the last year (Division I, II, III or NAIA), NCAA rules and regulations strictly prohibit us from having any communication with you, directly or indirectly, until that institution grants our institution permission to contact you. You may obtain this permission to contact at the Compliance Office of your current or previous institution. For more information, you may use the Guide for Four-Year Transfers as a resource.

TWO-YEAR TRANSFERS (2-4): If you are a student-athlete enrolled at another two-year school and have never previously attended a four-year school, we refer to you as a 2-4 transfer. Here are the rules that generally apply to you.

If you are a QUALIFIER...

At your two-year school, did you:

  1. Complete at least one semester (or quarter) as a full-time student? (Summer school does not count)
  2. Complete an average of 12 transferable credit hours in each term you attended full time? (Note: Not more than two credit hours of physical education activity courses may be used to fulfill the transferrable degree credit and GPA requirements, unless you are enrolling in a physical education degree program)
  3. Earn a grade-point average (GPA) of 2.500 in those transferable credit hours?

If YES to all: You can practice, get an athletics scholarship, and you can compete as soon as you transfer. (NOTE: basketball mid-year enrollees will not be eligible to compete until the next academic term in the fall)

If NO to any: You can practice and get an athletics scholarship as soon as you transfer. You cannot compete until you sit out for an academic year of residence (two full-time terms/semesters).

If you are a NON-QUALIFIER...

At your two-year school, did you:

  1. Graduate from your two-year school? You must have earned 25% of your credit hours at the two-year school that awards your degree.
  2. Complete at least three semesters (or four quarters) as a full-time student? (Summer school does not count)
  3. Complete 48 transferable credit hours if your school uses semesters or 72 transferable credit hours if your school uses quarters? Your transferable credit hours must include all the following subjects:
    • English: Six hours if your school uses semesters or eight hours if your school uses quarters.
    • Math: Three hours if your school uses semesters or four hours if your school uses quarters.
    • Natural/Physical Science: Three hours if your school uses semesters or four hours if your school uses quarters. 
  4. Earn a GPA of 2.500 in those transferable credit hours?

(Note: Not more than two credit hours of physical education activity courses may be used to fulfill the transferrable degree credit and GPA requirements, unless you are enrolling in a  degree program requiring physical education activity courses. Remedial English and math classes may not be used to satisfy this requirement.)

If YES to all: You can practice and get an athletics scholarship as soon as you transfer (basketball mid-year enrollees will not be eligible to compete until the next academic term in the fall).

If YES to questions 1-3, NO to question 4, and your GPA is 2.00-2.49: You can practice and get an athletics scholarship as soon as you transfer. However, you cannot play until you sit out for an academic year of residence (two full-time terms/semesters).

If NO to any: You cannot practice, you cannot receive an athletics scholarship, and you cannot compete until you sit out for an academic year of residence (two full-time terms/semesters).

For more information, you may use the Guide for Two-Year Transfers as a resource.

FOUR-TWO-FOUR TRANSFERS (4-2-4): If you started at a four-year school, then transferred to a two-year school and now want to transfer to a four-year school, we refer to you as a 4-2-4 transfer. Generally, here are the rules that apply to you.

If you are a QUALIFIER...

At your two-year school, did you:

  1. Graduate from the two-year school? You must have earned 25% of your credit hours at the two-year school awarding your degree.
  2. Complete an average of 12 transferable credit hours for each term you attended full time? (Note: Not more than two credit hours of physical education activity courses may be used to fulfill the transferrable degree credit and GPA requirements, unless you are enrolling in a degree program requiring physical education activity courses)
  3. Earn a GPA of 2.500 in those transferable credit hours?
  4. Before competing for Tennessee State, has one calendar year elapsed since your last day of enrollment at your original four-year school?

If YES to all: You can practice, get an athletics scholarship, and compete as soon as you transfer (If you are a basketball student-athlete who transfers in the middle of the academic year, you may not compete until the fall term).

If NO to any: You can practice and get an athletics scholarship as soon as you transfer. However, you cannot compete until you sit out for an academic year of residence (two full-time terms/semesters).

NOTE: A qualifier can also use the nonqualifier standard to avoid the year in residence.

If you are a NON-QUALIFIER OR ACADEMIC REDSHIRT...

At your two-year school, did you:

  1. Graduate from your two-year school? You must have earned 25% of your credit hours at the two-year school awarding your degree.
  2. Complete an average of 12 transferable credit hours for each term you attended full time? Your transferable credit hours must include all the following subjects:
    • English: Six hours if your school uses semesters or eight hours if your school uses quarters.
    • Math: Three hours if your school uses semesters or four hours if your school uses quarters.
    • Natural/Physical Science: Three hours if your school uses semesters or four hours if your school uses quarters. 
  3. Earn a GPA of 2.500 in those transferable credit hours?
  4. Before competing at Tennessee State, has one calendar year elapsed since your last day of enrollment at your original four-year school?

(Note: Not more than two credit hours of physical education activity courses may be used to fulfill the transferrable degree credit and GPA requirements, unless you are enrolling in a  degree program requiring physical education activity courses. Remedial English and math classes may not be used to satisfy this requirement.)

If YES to all: You can practice, get an athletics scholarship, and compete as soon as you transfer (If you are a basketball student-athlete who transfers in the middle of the academic year, you may not compete until the fall term).

If NO to any: You can practice as soon as your transfer if you completed one academic year at all your colleges combined. You can get an athletics scholarship as soon as you transfer if you completed one full-time academic term at your two-year school. You cannot compete until you sit out for an academic year of residence (two full-time terms/semesters).

Frequently Asked Questions

Below is a list of commonly asked questions that addresses many of the critical areas of compliance. If you have specific questions, please do not hesitate to contact the Compliance Office at (615) 963-5889.

Q: Who is a prospective student-athlete?

A: A prospective student-athlete or a prospect is a student who has started classes for the ninth grade. A student who has not yet started ninth grade may become a prospect if Tennessee State University or a booster provided the student, their relatives, or friends with financial assistance or a benefit that is not generally provided to prospective students. In addition, student-athletes enrolled in preparatory school or two-year colleges, or those who have officially drawn from a four-year school, are considered prospects. Special Note: A prospect remains a prospect even after he/she has signed a National Letter of Intent or accepted an offer of admission or financial aid to attend Tennessee State University. A prospect becomes a current student-athlete only when he/she reports for preseason practice or the first day of fall classes, whichever occurs first.

Q: What is recruiting?

A: Recruiting is the solicitation of a prospect or the prospect's parent(s) or legal guardian(s) by a Tennessee State University staff member for the purpose of securing the prospect's enrollment at Tennessee State University and/or participation in our athletics program. Recruiting activities include correspondence, email, faxes, telephone conversations, in person contacts (on and off campus), and evaluations.

Q: What is a Contact?

A: A contact is any face-to-face encounter between a prospect or the prospect's parent(s), relative(s) or legal guardian(s) and a University staff member or booster during which any dialogue in excess of an exchange of a greeting occurs. Any encounter that is prearranged or that takes place on the grounds of the prospect's school or at the site of organized competition or practice is considered a contact regardless of the conversation (including a greeting) that occurs.

Q: What is an evaluation?

A: An evaluation is any off-campus activity designed to assess the academic qualifications or athletics ability of a prospect, including any visit to a prospect's educational institution (during which no contact occurs) or the observation of a prospect participating in any practice or competition at any site.

Q: What is an official visit?

A: An official visit by a prospect is a visit to campus that is financed in whole or in part by Tennessee State University.

  • An official visit may not exceed 48 hours in duration.
  • Tennessee State University may pay the prospect's transportation costs for his or her official visit, provided a direct route between the prospect's home and the institution is used.
  • Tennessee State University may also entertain a prospect and his or her parents or legal guardians during an official visit provided the entertainment takes place on the institution's campus or within a 30-mile radius, and is at a scale comparable to that of normal student life.
  • As a reminder, boosters are not permitted to have contact with a prospect during his or her official visit.

Q: What is an unofficial visit?

A: An unofficial visit by a prospect is a visit made to Tennessee State University at the prospect's own expense. If any expenses are paid by Tennessee State University or booster, the visit will become an official visit.

Q: What is an extra benefit or inducement?

A: An extra benefit or recruiting inducement is any special arrangement by an institutional employee or booster to provide a current student-athlete, prospect, or their relatives or friends a benefit not expressly authorized by NCAA legislation. Examples of impermissible recruiting inducements and extra benefits include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Cash or loans in any amount, or signing or cosigning for a loan.
  • Gifts of any kind, including birthday and holiday gifts.
  • Free or reduced-cost services such as car repairs, haircuts, tutoring, etc.
  • The use of an automobile.
  • Free or reduced rent or housing.
  • Tickets to an athletic or community event.
  • Academic course supplies or assistance.
  • Arranging the employment of the relatives or friends of a prospect or student-athlete.
  • Entertaining a prospect or prospect's family or legal guardian on or off campus.