Do College Football Players REALLY Have To Attend Classes?

College athletes may be treated like all stars on campus, but do they get special privileges?  Do college football players go to class?

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Do college football players have to attend classes?

Yes, college athletes go to class. In fact, a lot of colleges mandate players to secure a certain GPA in order to keep playing. If players don’t maintain a certain GPA, the players may be disqualified from playing at all. 

I’ve been playing sports for many years and sometimes I’ve seen players not be able to play because of their grades. 

It’s a sad sight to see because it’s not like the players don’t care. It’s just the schedule of practice is so demanding that sometimes studies slip through the cracks. 


The NCAA gives different rules for each division of play, in terms of maintaining certain grades. 

The following outline is accurate and straight from the NCAA’s site and applies to college football and college football players, and maybe even a football coach.  

Division I

  • 40 percent of course work towards a degree must be completed by the end of the second year. 60 percent of course work must be completed by the end of the third year, and 80 percent by the end of the 4th year.
  • Student athletes are allowed to play for five years, and receive aid for sports for five years. 
  • All students must maintain 6 credit hours and must meet the minimum GPA required for graduation. 

Division II

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  • 24 semester hours of degree credit must be completed each year for college football players to remain eligible to continue playing. 
  • Student athletes must maintain a 2.0 cumulative GPA each year to continue playing. 
  • Division II student-athletes must complete their four seasons of competition within the first 10 semesters or 15 quarters of full-time enrollment.

Division III

  • Players must maintain a full time course status for continued eligibility to continue playing football.

These are the requirements for the NCAA. These requirements are for all college students everywhere and are national requirements for a student athlete. 

A football player must follow these rules whether they go to school on the East coast or the West coast. 

That’s not to say some schools differ in their rules when it comes to determining eligibility. 

Some schools may enact stricter guidelines for most college athletes. 

Strict Schools

Some schools don’t push academics as much as other schools in terms of their college sports. 

For example, some schools make their players score a high GPA in order to keep pursuing a real college education while also being a college athlete.

For example, to be accepted into Rice University as a student, even before you can be considered to play football, you must have very high grades and SAT scores. Rice University only has a 16% acceptance rate so your chances are very slim at getting into Rice let alone becoming a ball player for Rice. 

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If you wish to receive a free education from Rice to play sports, your grades must be extremely good with SAT and other test scores above average. 

Another school that mandates good grades in order to play football is Duke University. 

A high school student wanting to play football should have at least a 3.7 GPA if they want to be considered for a spot on the Duke University football team. 

The last strict school we’ll speak of to play college football for is Notre Dame. Notre Dame requires that students maintain a 1.7 GPA for the first academic year. 

College students at Notre Dame are expected to attend all classes. 

When students are traveling for competition, students are excused, but if not in season, students must attend all classes. 

The students are responsible for organizing any missed work with the professor prior to missing any work. 

How Often Do College Football Players Need to Attend Class?

Attending class is often an optional choice for college students. Unlike in a high school curriculum, college students are treated as adults (which most of them are).

This implies that a lot of the class attendance is left up to the students to decide how much they want to participate.

While attendance may be optional, failure to make it to class can result in major drawbacks in a college student’s academic progress.

Ultimately, going to class, paying attention during lectures, and working with your peers to solve problems can heavily influence how well a student does in class. 

Just because a college football player does not necessarily need to attend class, that does not mean that they should skip formal lessons.

Now, keep in mind that each school and even college professor can technically decide how much they value participation and class attendance.

If the college and professor state that going to class is essential, football players may have no choice.

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What GPA Do College Football Players Need to Maintain?

Many incoming college athletes think that their school solely decides whether they get to play football based on their GPA.

While a college can certainly demand specific GPA requirements, you also need to meet the NCAA’s standards for academic performance. 

The NCAA requires that all college football players maintain a 2.0 GPA if they want to stay in the game.

Student-athletes must maintain a cumulative 2.0 GPA each year if they want to participate in NCAA college football. 

This implies that athletes must have a “C” average of 75% in their core classes to qualify. While this may seem quite reasonable, students also need to look at any potential requirements the school has. 

Can College Football Players Take Online Classes?

Maintaining a solid GPA while attending classes and playing college football is incredibly demanding, and honestly, in many cases, unsustainable.

Luckily, the NCAA has approved certain online courses for college athletes, which can help lighten the load of their academics during the football season. 

There are specific requirements for online classes that students must adhere to. You need to look into your college’s specific online classes and confirm if the NCAA recognizes them.

If so, you should not have any issues playing ball while studying virtually. 

This can be a huge boost for college football players to stay focused on both their learning and playing at the same time.

More flexible scheduling makes time management easier, allowing athletes to balance their lifestyles.

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College Football Athlete Majors

There is a noticeable trend among college football athletes. A lot of college football athletes major in the same thing. 

In fact, there is a list of the most popular majors among college football majors. The list is taken from a survey and the results are as follows. 

  • Kinesiology/Exercise Science
  • Sports Management
  • Business Administration
  • Communication Studies
  • Sociology.

These majors are pretty popular among all college students, but seem to be very popular among the college football students who choose a major. 

This makes sense as a lot of college players don’t intend on playing football for the rest of their lives, but do intend on being in touch with sports in some way or another, hence the exercise science and sports management major topping the list. 

Though, sadly, only 56% of college student football players complete their graduation. That’s almost about half of college football players who start college and don’t finish. 

Maybe more should be done in order to ensure individuals who want to continue playing football after high school complete their degrees so they aren’t left in the wind after their football career has finished. 

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Only a few percent of college football players graduate compared to other student athletes. For example, 80% of student athletes in total graduate while only 56% of college football players graduate. 

Many college athletes have a hard time focusing on school and athletes, but that does not explain the disparity between all student athlete graduation rates and football graduation rates. 

What Do Other College Athletes Major In? 

All college athletes have many athletic obligations, including school, practice, games, clubs, student government, and more. 

So what are most college athletes interested in, in college? Football players at Ohio State seem most interested in Kinesiology, but what about track athletes or swim athletes? 

The most popular majors among college athletes vary depending on the sport, but some of the common majors among student-athletes include:

  • Business Administration
  • Kinesiology/Exercise Science
  • Sports Management
  • Communication Studies
  • Marketing
  • Psychology
  • Education

It’s important to note that these majors are generally popular among college athletes, not just football players.

Additionally, the actual distribution of majors may vary depending on the institution and the athletic conference.

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How Many Hours Per Week Do College Football Players Practice?

College education is strenuous enough, but when you incorporate football games and practice into your routine, there’s not much room left for anything else. 

Athletic obligations can become particularly troublesome when you consider that practice alone can take up as much as 15 to 20 hours per week.

The amount of time players need to commit to practice depends on the football coach, but in general, two hours per day is the least that you should expect. 

College football players may be given a free education at times but this does come at a price. Other students just need to focus on academics, whereas athletes must include college sports in their schedules.

Value Of Being A College Athlete

Most athletes have demanding class schedules that require lots of time and dedication. Practices every day can sometimes last up to two hours. 

Universities that have dual programs such as athletics and academics ensure their students are top notches. 

Universities that offer these programs demand the very best from their students. As a freshman myself, during the summer semester, I spent it focusing on the difficult classes while leaving the easier classes for the on season. 

But if you work hard during the off season and on season, once you graduate, you will be able to handle a lot of what life throws at you through time management. 

Time management is the biggest key to success when balancing practice and school. 

School football players range in average grade point averages. The average GPA of college football players was 2.84 on a 4.0 scale.

This GPA differs from institution to institution and from division to division, and how each program is run. But for the most part, the 2.84 is the average GPA for schools around the nation. 

Key Takeaways

  • College athletes do have to attend classes.
  • College athletes have to maintain a certain GPA to continue playing. 
  • Some schools like Rice enact stricter academic guidelines for their players. 
  • College football players mostly major in Kinesiology. 
  • College football players graduate at a rate of 56%. 

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