Playing in one Canadian Hockey League (WHL) exhibition or regular season game will likely cost a prospect his NCAA eligibility.
However, there is still the opportunity for prospects to attend a WHL camp to learn more about the team, while retaining amateur status. The important thing is to know ALL the facts when making this very important decision.
Any player who wants to consider the U.S. college hockey option needs to remember a few things before signing with or attending a CHL training camp:
1. A CHL team may cover necessary expenses for you to attend a tryout for up to 48 hours (including transportation, lodging, meals, etc.). The 48-hour period begins when you arrive at the tryout location. This is a one-time allowance per team and can be used for a training camp or rookie camp.
To be safe, pay for everything when going to a WHL camp to ensure amateur status remains intact (including transportation to and from camp, hotels, meals, etc.)
2. While attending WHL camps, prospects may participate in practices and intra-squad scrimmages, BUT may not face off against players or prospects representing another WHL team, even in an exhibition game.
Playing in one exhibition game or regular season game will likely result in the player no longer being eligible for an NCAA scholarship. Pre-season and Regular season games are both considered the same in the eyes of the NCAA.
Do not play any game against players from another WHL team unles you are 100% positive you want to go the WHL route.
3. If you are drafted in the WHL in the spring and are attending camp as a 15 or 16 year old, do not rush into signing or playing a game as a 15 or 16 year old unless you are positive you want to go the WHL route. If you are unsure, maintaining your NCAA eligibility for another year will give you more time to evaluate your options and to make a well-informed decision for your future.
4. A contract with a WHL team is considered a professional contract by the NCAA and therefore jeopardizes a prospect's eligibility.
To be safe, do not sign any agreement with a WHL team unless you are 100% positive you want to go the WHL route.
5. If a WHL team gives you a jersey or other gifts, you should be prepared to either return those items, compensate the team appropriately or donate them to charity.
To be safe, don't accept anything from a WHL team until having signed with that team or having made the decision to go the WHL route.
Being drafted and/or invited to a WHL training camp is a great validation of your skills as a hockey player and a good sign of things to come in your hockey career. That career will include a number of choices along the way - we want prospects to know their options so that they can make the most informed decision possible.
NCAA prospects 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 initial eligibility. (See link to pdf at the top of the page for NCAA Sliding Scale)
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. The NCAA Eligibility Center includes important details on those requirements, plus lists of approved core courses at specific high schools or in each Canadian province. (See link to pdf at the top of the page for approved Manitoba Core Courses)
What You Need to Do:
* Register with the NCAA Eligibility Center.
* Take 16 NCAA-approved core courses in your first four years of high school; you can find a list of approved courses for the province of Manitoba or each U.S. high school at the NCAA Eligibility Center web site. (See link to pdf at the top of the page for approved Manitoba Core Courses)
* Register for and take either the SAT or the ACT. Plan to take it more than once; the NCAA will only consider your best score.
* Submit transcripts and test scores to the NCAA Eligibility Center.
* If you would like to take university classes after high school but before beginning your player career, do so as a part-time student - do not enroll full time.
Note: To play Division I Sports, you need to qualify academically. To meet the minimum requirements for Division I student, athletes enrolling in college in August 2016 or later, you must earn a minimum 2.300 GPA in core courses and earn a combined SAT or ACT score that matched your core-course GPA on the sliding scale to compete in your first year of college. (See link to pdf at the top of the page for NCAA Sliding Scale)