ORONO — When recruiting prospective college athletes, coaches are looking for signs that the player is willing to make a commitment, not only to the program but to the school.
For these student-athletes, that commitment is not made lightly. In addition to meeting the same academic and athletic eligibilty qualifications as an American high school student, they must take extra steps.

They have to make sure they have taken the proper courses in their home country to qualify academically. They have to get their transcripts translated into English. Not only do they have to take the SAT, but also another test showing their proficiency in the English language. For the University of Maine, that means taking TOEFL – a Test of English as a Foreign Language.

And then, if they’re not from Canada, they have to get a travel visa.

“It is a major effort on their part,’’ said Doug Leichner, the recruiting coordinator for Maine’s men’s basketball team. “They have to be proactive, regarding taking the SAT, taking TOEFL, taking the proper courses in their country that will allow them to get admitted here, getting their transcripts translated.

“One of the first things I ask is, ‘Have you taken the SAT? Have you taken the TOEFL?’ If they have, that shows commitment.”

According to the NCAA, there were 484 nonresident aliens (someone not born in the U.S.)  playing college sports in the 2010-11 season. While each school may have different requirements, the NCAA has specific ones that must be met. They check not only the academic eligibility of each international student, but the athletic ability.

Because of Europe’s club system, some students play with professionals.

“It is becoming more complicated,’’ said Steve Abbott, the athletic director at Maine.

Valerie Nicholson, an adminstrative assistant at Maine’s International Admissions department, said the school received applications from 360 international students for the fall semester. About  90 were accepted and admitted.

Staff Writer Mike Lowe can be contacted at 791-6422 or at:

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