College Athletics Recruiting: Navigating the NCAA Manual

Tom KovicCorrespondent IMarch 15, 2012

MIAMI, FL - MARCH 06:  Mark Buehrle #56 of the Miami Marlins pitches during a game against the University of Miami Hurricanes at Marlins Park on March 6, 2012 in Miami, Florida.  (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

The NCAA Manual is the go-to resource for prospective players and families as they begin to build their education base in the college search.

Between the Division 1, 2 and 3 manuals, there are well over 1,500 pages of helpful information.

The aim of this article is to direct you toward these resources, help you simplify your search, and wrap your head around the recruiting terms, rules and procedures you will encounter as you navigate the college recruiting process.

First, let’s search for a copy of the manual:

  1. Go to
  2. Click the “Resources” tab.
  3. Under “Resources,” click either the Division 1, 2 or 3 manual links.
  4. From there you can either order a hard copy of the manual or download a free PDF version.

If you haven’t done so already, create a folder labeled "College" on your laptop. Add a sub-folder and label it “NCAA.”

Save the manuals to your folder for easy access in the future.

The manual is loaded with a tremendous amount of information but parents and athletes only need a fraction of it.

When you break it down, only three chapters or “Articles” in the manual are absolutely necessary to understand and utilize.

Below we refer to the Division 1 manual.

Article 13: Recruiting

This is a very important chapter that will provide you with the nuts and bolts of how recruiting works along with the limitations and timelines that bind college coaches and families.

Here is a list of sub-articles that you should pay attention to:

  • Definitions and Applications
  • Contacts and Evaluations
  • Recruiting Materials
  • Campus Visits
  • Letter of Intent

In some cases, you will notice multiple “revisions” of a rule or definition. Look carefully for the most recent date of the revision and the effective date and you will be right on target.

Remember that the recruiting process is like learning a new language, and sometimes you have to  jump in. The more information you have, the more you will understand.


Article 14 Eligibility: Academic and General Requirements

Can you imagine going through the entire recruiting process, showing up to college, and getting the news from your new coach and compliance officer that you are ineligible to practice or play?

Academic eligibility is a necessary part of the college-recruiting process and you want to be certain you are on track every step of the way.

Whether it is scheduling the proper coursework during your high school years, registering for the NCAA Eligibility Center or taking the ACT's, you want to be sure you hit tangible academic targets.

Here are important sub-articles to research:

  • Definitions
  • General Eligibility Requirements
  • Freshmen Academic Requirements
  • Transfer Regulations
  • Certification of Eligibility


This is a critical chapter that will provide you with a clear list of academic requirements that you will be expected to meet, and recruiting pitfalls that you want to avoid.

You can’t play the game if you don’t know the rules.

Article 15: Financial Aid

This chapter will give you a clear and informative analysis of both need-based and athletic-related financial aid.

It not only defines athletic scholarships and how they are distributed, it also clarifies maximum limits of athletic aid by sport.

This is a short chapter and I suggest you focus on each sub-article:

  • Definitions
  • Maximum Limits of Aid (Individual)
  • Terms and Conditions
  • Elements of Aid
  • Maximum Sports Limitations

Understanding NCAA rules and procedures is a vital component to any successful college search for athletes. The NCAA manual is a tremendous resource that is readily available.

Creating shortcuts to navigate the important areas of the manual will help you build a well-rounded and resourceful knowledge base as you navigate college recruiting.

Tom Kovic is a former Division I college coach and President of Victory Collegiate Consulting, where he advises prospects and families on college recruiting. Tom is the author of “Reaching for Excellence” An educational guide for college athletics recruiting.”