NCAA’s reply to HSLDA

February 2002


This is in response to your letter in which you comment about the home-school initial-eligibility waiver process and the acceptability of courses with religious content.

Based on the information in your letter, a prospective student-athlete was denied an initial-eligibility waiver due to the fact that some of the student's home-school coursework was not used to fulfill the core-curriculum requirements because of its religious content. You would like the NCAA to reconsider its core-curriculum policies in light of this situation.

Current NCAA Division I legislation requires that a prospective-student athlete present the following academic requirements to meet the core-curriculum standards:

4 years of English

2 years of mathematics (at the level of Algebra I or higher)

2 years of natural or physical science (including one laboratory course, if offered by any high school the student attended)

1 year of additional English, mathematics or natural/physical science

2 years of social science

2 years of additional academic courses (in any of the above areas or foreign language, computer science, philosophy or nondoctrinal religion courses).

Division II legislation differs somewhat from Division I in its requirements of three years of English, and two years of additional English, mathematics or natural/physical science.

Further, courses must meet all of the following criteria to meet core-curriculum requirements:

The course must be a recognized academic course and qualify for high school graduation credit in the areas listed above;

The course must be considered college preparatory (defined as academically preparing the student to enter a four-year collegiate institution); Mathematics courses must be at the level of Algebra I or higher;

The course must be taught by a qualified instructor; and

The course must be taught at or above the regular academic level.

Because of the unique nature of home schooling, students who are home schooled do not have their initial-eligibility status reviewed by the NCAA Initial-Eligibility Clearinghouse; rather, their eligibility is reviewed through the initial-eligibility waiver process. Because home-school programs do not have a list of NCAA approved core courses as do high schools, core-course credit is determined through the waiver process. All home-school courses are reviewed using the criteria listed above. If any questions regarding a course arise, the course then is reviewed by the NCAA Core-Course Review Committee in the particular area. For example, Creation Science would be reviewed by the Core-Course Review Committee (Natural/Physical Science Subcommittee). The only courses that are reviewed specifically for doctrinal components are religion courses, inasmuch as NCAA legislation only permits nondoctrinal religion courses to qualify for core-course credit. Courses in other areas, such as social studies or natural/physical science, are reviewed for their core content and are not denied because they may have been taught with a doctrinal focus.

Courses may be reviewed for a number of reasons. For example, the title of a course such as Pre-Algebra may indicate that its content may not meet the legislated definition of a core course. The course may be reviewed because it appears to duplicate the content of another course (Formal Geometry and Informal Geometry, for example).

It is not the intention of the NCAA to interfere with religious liberty; rather the NCAA member institutions have legislated the core-curriculum requirements with a view to the academic preparedness of its incoming student-athletes. Courses are reviewed by examining the course content, and a decision is rendered based on that content, not on the chance that the course may have a religious dimension.

It is important to understand that all NCAA legislation is proposed and adopted by NCAA member institutions and conferences. Divisions II and III constituents vote on legislative proposals at the annual NCAA Convention, while Division I adopts its legislation through a twice yearly legislative system. New legislation or changes to legislation may occur only through this process; therefore, it is not possible for a change to be made in this, or any rule, without the proposed change going through the normal legislative process.

I hope this information is helpful. Please let me know if I can be of further assistance.

[This letter has been modified to remove specific references to our client]

 Other Resources

Click here to read HSLDA's letter

Click here for more information on home schooling eligibility waivers