Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Pittsburgh Public Schools partners with NCAA and Steelers to help student-athletes stay on track

Basketballs sit in a row.
Charlie Neibergall
Last July, PPS entered into a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the NCAA and Steelers to establish a partnership to help student athletes stay on track.

Pittsburgh Public Schools is part of a first-of-its-kind partnership with the NCAA and Pittsburgh Steelers to help families stay on top of each league’s academic requirements for prospective athletes.

High school students interested in pursuing collegiate-level sports must maintain a minimum grade point average and complete at least 16 core classes before they can play for a Division I or II team.

Glenn Terry, director of outreach and strategic partnerships at the NCAA Eligibility Center, said about 98% of Pittsburgh students interested in college sports meet the organization’s eligibility requirements.

“We just want to make sure that these two [percent of] student-athletes get the education, make sure that they are properly planning through high school to make sure that they don't miss out on an opportunity,” Terry said.

WESA Inbox Edition Newsletter

Want more stories about our education system? Sign up for our newsletter and we'll send you Pittsburgh's top news, every weekday morning.

Last July, PPS entered into a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the NCAA and Steelers to establish the partnership. It dictates that the organization will provide the district’s counselors, coaches and administrators with educational programming around player eligibility requirements multiple times a year through the 2024-2025 school year.

Staff from the NCAA and Pittsburgh Steelers will meet with the district’s families in person Thursday night at Brashear High School for an information session on those requirements.

Together, they will help families sign up for the NCAA Eligibility Center, an online portal where students can keep track of requirements to compete at the college level and access support from NCAA staff.

“We want to make sure that each and every student that goes through the eligibility center has the knowledge and the understanding of what the academic requirements are, and they're able to meet these academic requirements to further their educational opportunities at the college or university of their choice,” Terry added.

As part of its MOU with the NCAA, PPS has committed to ensuring all rising ninth graders interested in college sports create a free account with the NCAA Eligibility Center. That way, they can ensure all eligible students have the academic requirements to qualify.

The Pittsburgh Steelers will add momentum to this effort, bringing in players and alumni to engage students and families interested in college sports.

“Awareness of opportunities and the overall eligibility process will benefit athletes, parents, and administrators to help provide a path to follow for athletes in every sport to get to the next level,” said Steelers business director Dan Rooney.

According to Terry, the NCAA hopes to replicate that work through partnerships with teams and districts nationwide so that the country’s roughly 8 million student-athletes can pursue higher education.

Jillian Forstadt is an education reporter at 90.5 WESA. Before moving to Pittsburgh, she covered affordable housing, homelessness and rural health care at WSKG Public Radio in Binghamton, New York. Her reporting has appeared on NPR’s Morning Edition.