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NCAA Eligibility – Ice Hockey (International)

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NCAA regulations require all incoming student-athletes to meet a prescribed level of academic performance while maintaining their amateur status before entering college. The students who wish to compete at the Division I and II level must be certified by the NCAA Eligibility Center which looks at two main criteria:


NCAA student-athletes in Division I or II must meet minimum academic criteria that takes into account high school grades as well as scores on standardized tests (the SAT or ACT). Those scores are weighted on a sliding scale to determine eligibility.

The grade-point average considered by the NCAA only includes what are considered “core courses” – and all prospective students must have taken 16 of these core courses, including 10 prior to the seventh semester of high school. The NCAA webpage includes important details on those requirements, with the lists of approved core courses at specific high schools or in each Canadian province.

Similar rules also apply for International Student Athletes based on their country’s school system. The NCAA published the International Academic Standards for Athletics Eligibility.


The rules are strict and do not allow:

  • Contracts with professional teams
  • Salary for participating in athletics
  • Prize money above actual and necessary expenses
  • Play with professionals
  • Tryouts, practice or competition with a professional team
  • Benefits from an agent or prospective agent
  • Agreement to be represented by an agent
  • Delayed initial full-time collegiate enrollment to participate in organized sports competition

For talented Swiss Junior players, or European players in general for that matter, it can be difficult to get certified, as they have a tendency to sign with agents at a young age and being heavily recruited by professional teams. In North America the players at a young age have to decide which track they want to pursue: CHL or USHL in order not to compromise their NCAA eligibility. The same is true for the European Junior Player!

Important for future Student-Athletes:

  • DO NOT accept payments or gifts based on your athletic abilities
  • DO NOT sign a Contract with a professional team nor play (not even exhibition) games with a team (CHL teams are considered professional teams!)
  • DO NOT sign an Agreement with an Agent nor have have an oral understanding
  • It is ALLOWED to participate in a training camp with a professional team, provided the player does not stay longer than 48 hours if the team pays for the expenses, if the stay exceeds 48 hours the player plays all the related expenses
  • Junior, Prep or high School teams are ALLOWED to absorb all actual cost for the player as long as the expenses are directly related to participating in the team’s competitive events including practices
  •  Check out the NCAA Amateurism page.

What You Need to Do if  You Want to Play NCAA D1 or D2:

  • Register with the NCAA Eligibility Center
  • Register for and take either the SAT or the ACT. Plan to take it more than once; the NCAA (and the College) will only consider your best score.
  • Submit transcripts (translated and attested by a specialized firm) and test scores to the NCAA Eligibility Center.
  • If you would like to take university classes after high school but before beginning your NCAA playing career, do so as a part-time student – do not enroll full-time.

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