Each school year, hundreds of student-athletes in the Tampa Bay area gather inside their respective school gymnasiums, conference rooms and cafeterias to sign national letters-of-intent to play sports at the college level at their chosen university or college.
But if future college prospects aren’t careful, moments like these may shrink as standards toward becoming a Division I and Division II student-athlete have become slightly more difficult.
In April, the NCAA decided to increase requirements for initial eligibility for NCAA Division I-bound athletes entering college on or after Aug.?1, 2016, and for student-athletes who plan to enroll at a Division II college or university on or after Aug.?1 of this year.
Division III institutions are permitted to hold student-athletes to the same academic standards as non-athletes. The new requirements could lead to hundreds of aspiring college prospects being turned away for struggling in the classroom.
“If schools and kids don’t start to be proactive, 43 percent of basketball recruits and 35 percent of football recruits will be academically ineligible,” said Dan Eassa, executive director of Tampa-based FreeRecruitingWebinar.org.
On March 3, Eassa held a recruiting and eligibility seminar at the Sun Dome. More than 500 students and parents from close to 80 schools throughout the Tampa area participated. One of the essential discussions was the new requirements.