- Must earn 24 hours a year, counting summer courses.
- Of those 24 hours, 18 must be earned during regular academic year (so, must be non-summer courses).
- A student must earn a minimum of 6 hours credit the previous semester.
- Division II student-athletes must complete their four seasons of eligibility within the first 10 semesters (5 academic years) of full-time enrollment.
- GPA requirements:
- After first year (24 hours): 1.80
- After second year (48 hours): 1.90
- After third & fourth years (72+ hours): 2.00
Developmental (read: remedial) courses only count toward hours for NCAA eligibility in the student's first year of college.
The way I see this play out for fall sports (ie: football) is a coach will have a student take 12-15 hours in the Spring, with an additional 6 in the summer. Then, a student need only pass 3-6 hours in the fall to get 24 for the year (they have to be enrolled in 12 hours). So, the student will flunk all but 3-6 of his hours and play all he wants to. If something goes wrong, he can make up the difference in spring or the following summer.
Of course, that doesn't bode well for the student's degree track. But a lot of those kids aren't going to graduate, that's not what they're recruited for. Many fall within the 6 hours needed to walk across the stage but just short of a diploma.
Coaches also utilize the redshirt option, to help a student raise the GPA or take 15-18 hours so that the student can be cut to 12 hours a semester in other years.
Students who don't meet the minimum entrance requirements of a university can enroll in a Junior College. So long as they fulfill the 24 hour 1.8 GPA requirement they can transfer and be immediately eligible to play in the fall. Often they will take remedial courses (since they count in the first year) and other easier credits (Weightlifting and Human Sexuality are two I see most frequently along with a lot of Physical Education courses. Football, basketball, etc. also count as a one-hour credit course) to get to 24.
I've also seen a student allowed to play without having an official transcript sent from a previous university-- no official proof that he met the above requirements for the previous academic year. The student had played for two previous colleges and sent a transcript from the first school but not the second. He declined to give answers why when repeatedly asked. He transferred again after the season, having flunked all of his classes but played rather well.
DII schools are not subject to the same Academic Progress Rate evaluation that DI schools are. DIII schools have no minimum eligibility standards other than those set by the university.