NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association)
The governing body of college athletics overseeing Divisions I. II, and III. www.ncaa.org
NAIA (National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics)
Athletic association of nearly 300 colleges around the country. Often schools not affiliated with NCAA will be members of NAIA. www.naia.org
NCAA Eligibility Center (formerly the NCAA Clearinghouse)
The Eligibility Center certifies the academic and amateur credentials of all students who want to play sports at an NCAA Division I or II institution as freshmen. In order to practice, play, and receive an athletic scholarship, students need to meet certain academic benchmarks. www.eligibilitycenter.org
The defined requirements (benchmarks) a student-athlete must meet in order to be eligible for participation at the Division I or II level. These will change on August 1, 2016. www.fs.ncaa.org/Docs/eligibility_ center/Eligibility_Rules/EligibilityRules.pdf
NLI (National Letter of Intent)
A letter signed by a student-athlete and an Athletic Director at a Division I or II institution where an agreement is made to attend for one year in exchange for financial aid (a scholarship of some sort). The signing of an NLI is an agreement that a student-athlete will be accepted by an institution and will attend the institution.
This is the process whereby a coach walks a recruited student-athlete’s grades and scores to the admissions office in order to determine where the recruit stands in the admissions process. Can potentially lead to a likely letter or admissions slot.
Used primarily by Ivy League Schools (in lieu of NLIs and scholarships) letting students know that they are likely to be admitted if their grades remain where they are at the time of the early read. Admissions offices issue likely letters, not athletic offices.
A term used by some coaches to assure a student that if he or she applies early the student will have a place in the accepted student pool. DIII coaches use this term most often with recruited athletes (in lieu of both NLIs and Likely Letters).
Academic Index (AI)
A 240-point scale (taking into account GPA and standardized test scores) that is used by the Ivy League to ensure a student-athlete’s academic ability is in-line with that of the general student body’s. http://thechoice.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/01/10/ivy-academic-index/