NCAA Basketball Scholarship Rules

by Ron White ; Updated July 27, 2017
Basketball scholarships help student-athletes pay for college.

The National Collegiate Athletic Association features basketball as one its top sports. More than 7,000 college basketball scholarships are awarded annually to student-athletes at NCAA member schools. More than 300 Division I schools offer scholarships and 290 Division II colleges. Scholarships are available for men’s and women’s basketball. To secure and maintain a scholarship, though, student-athletes and their schools must follow several rules instituted by the NCAA.

Academics Rules

To receive a NCAA basketball scholarship, student-athletes must meet several academic guidelines. These guidelines begin with eligibility standards for incoming freshman student-athletes. The NCAA requires high school students to complete 16 core-area courses for Division I basketball scholarships and 14 core area courses for Division II basketball scholarships. The NCAA requires four years of high school English, three years of high school math, four years of high school science, including two years of physical science, four years of additional courses and one year of science or math. Division II student-athletes can qualify with only three years of English and with only two years of math. The NCAA also has minimum requirements for high school grade-point average and college entrance exam scores. All students must have at least a 37 ACT sum score or a 400 SAT score. The NCAA uses a sliding scale for Division I students. The test scores must be higher for students with a lower GPA. Students with a 2.00 GPA must have an SAT score of at least 1010 or an ACT sum score of 86. After students begin their college educations, they are required to maintain a 2.00 GPA to remain eligible for their scholarship participation.

Number of Scholarships

The NCAA establishes rules on the number of basketball scholarships that member schools are allowed to offer. For Division I, men’s basketball programs are allowed to offer 13 scholarships and women’s basketball programs are allowed to offer 15 scholarships. For Division II, men’s and women’s basketball programs are limited to 10 scholarships.

Scholarship Awards

What schools are allowed to offer in their basketball scholarships varies. Division I colleges are allowed to offer basketball scholarships that pay for all of tuition and fees and room and board. These so-called full-ride scholarships provide student-athletes with a virtual free education, but the NCAA also allows the university to offer partial scholarships. A half-scholarship pays only half of tuition and room and board. By awarding half-scholarships, schools are allowed to split single scholarships between multiple athletes. Division II NCAA member schools are only allowed to offer tuition reimbursement. Division II student-athletes must pay their own room and board.

Amateur Status Rule

To qualify for an NCAA basketball scholarship, student-athletes must be amateur athletes with no previous paid experience in the sport. The NCAA Eligibility Center requires students seeking an athletic scholarship to complete an amateurism certification process. There is a $60 fee for registration. Through this process, student-athletes are required to answer several questions regarding their history of participation in sports. Individual institutions also must ensure that students maintain amateur status. Factors that could negate an student-athlete’s amateur status include having a contract with a professional team, receiving a salary for participating in athletics, receiving prize money above expenses, play with professional athletes, trying out or practicing with a professional team, receiving benefits from a sports agent or prospective sports agent and agreeing to be represented by an agent. Athletes who violate the amateurism rules are not automatically ineligible for a scholarship. Instead, the NCAA Eligibility Center will review the details and determine whether the student-athlete should be eligible for competition and a scholarship.

About the Author

Based in Central Florida, Ron White has worked as professional journalist since 2001. He specializes in sports and business. White started his career as a sportswriter and later worked as associate editor for Maintenance Sales News and as the assistant editor for "The Observer," a daily newspaper based in New Smyrna Beach, Fla. White has written more than 2,000 news and sports stories for newspapers and websites. He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in journalism from Eastern Illinois University.

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