What’s the Age Limit to Play College Soccer?

There’s no specific age cutoff to play college soccer, but other factors could make it difficult for older players to play.

NCAA Eligibility Requirements

In order to play college sports, including soccer, players need to meet NCAA eligibility requirements.

Academic requirements include having at least 16 credits in certain core subjects like math, English, and science. You also need at least a 2.3 GPA in core subjects. Junior colleges that aren’t under the NCAA often have higher requirements.

To play for DI and II schools, you generally need to enroll in college within 12 months after you graduate high school. That means no gap years. If you skip a season, the next season will usually be more than 12 months after your May high school graduation.

So even though there’s no official NCAA age limit, freshmen college athletes almost have to be 18 or 19 years old.

The restrictions for DIII and non-NCAA colleges are looser when it comes to enrollment. For NCAA DIII, there’s no time limit to enroll, but you get 10 semesters of eligibility.

So yes, even a 40-year-old can play college soccer. It will just be in a lower division.

Older Players and Amateurism Rules

Another issue older student-athletes will face is the amateurism rules. If you’re a good enough player to start a college career at an older age, there’s a good chance you were good enough to play in a league where players are getting paid (even if unofficially).

You’re generally ineligible to play college sports if you’ve ever been paid more than your travel expenses and direct costs of participating in a league or competition. Even if you got paid poorly, the NCAA will still consider you a professional player.

Having played on a team or in a league where other players were paid can also cause issues. However, it’s often possible to get around this if you stop playing there before you enroll in college.

Before you play college sports, you have to show proof of your eligibility. That will include submitting your playing history and answering questions about whether you’ve ever been paid. The NCAA also requires you to prove that you were an amateur, so if they have questions about your history, they might deny you.

Will college teams take older players?

Even if you’re eligible, whether teams will take you as an older player is another question.

First, college soccer is generally fast and physical. Teams will often prefer faster and stronger players over more experienced and more technically skilled players who may be slowing down with age.

Second, coaches may worry about team chemistry and how you’ll fit in with the group. If a team has players who are the typical college age, a coach may not want to take a much older player.

On the other hand, many lower-division colleges have a lot of older players. Some schools mainly have students who are going back to school. Smaller colleges that put academics first may have a harder time finding talented players and are happy to take non-traditional student-athletes.

So if you’re absolutely set on saying you played college sports, you can probably find a team somewhere that will take you. On the other hand, if you just need to go back to school and want to play at a high level, you can check out other alternatives like playing UPSL or NPSL.

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