When high school athletes plan their transition into NCAA sports, they often struggle to confirm whether their high school transcripts will meet eligibility requirements. After graduation, it’s too late to discover a gap. We helped Honest Game develop a solution that students, parents, and schools can use to make sure that students stay on track through high school—before they graduate.
Student athletes often struggle to map their school’s classes and grading systems, as balanced with standardized test scores, to the NCAA requirements, class categorizations, and weighting factors. That’s why the founders of Honest Game envisioned a system to help students, parents, and schools proactively map a student’s class progress against NCAA requirements in the years before graduation.
But there was a lot of development work to be done. The founders had an existing template-driven system which required a time-consuming manual entry, mapping, and checking to generate each eligibility report. Honest Game needed a solution to produce CARE® (College Athletic Report on Eligibility) plans with speed and certainty, so they could scale to reach more students, parents, and schools across new markets.
Honest Game also needed an interface that would be intuitive to students, parents, and school administrators—three very different demographics. And, of course, it needed to manage and adapt to the complexity of mapping NCAA requirements to a range of divergent data, systems, and standards across high schools. The dynamic nature of this work was evident soon after the venture capital pitch competition, when the NCAA revised requirements for the pandemic.
To begin, we launched a discovery phase to understand the target markets, how Honest Game was selling the product to each, how different users would interact with the product, and a number of other factors. Our team walked through user scenarios to outline the system’s acceptance criteria in each case, identifying edge cases where the system needed to be adaptable to changes or special scenarios like fifth-year students.
With a front-line sales and end-user perspective on these needs, our team had a clear target for development. We created timelines for the project, helping Honest Game understand our process and why the timelines looked the way they did. Since the Honest Game founders are very visual people, we regularly communicated our process throughout agile development sprints and quickly moved to UI models for the founders to review.
The new system automatically maps student data to NCAA requirements to produce ongoing dashboard metrics and CARE plan summaries—so Honest Game founders and staff no longer need to spend their time on manual processing. Now, users can more efficiently check on a student’s progress toward eligibility, getting feedback on what the student still needs to do.
The Honest Game founders are very thorough—and they still want to spot check the system’s reports—but now, they can check a dozen reports out of a thousand rather than manually producing them all. They told us that one of their favorite outcomes is when they think the system might have produced an error—but further checking shows the system was correct. They love to be proved wrong by their software because, as they put it, “that means it’s working.”
With the power of automation, even high schools can efficiently check on eligibility to accurately answer student questions and save staff time. The new system has dashboards for users at a district level, so they can check on the academic progress of student athletes throughout their system.
Now, Honest Game has achieved its goal of building the scalability to reach more users and larger markets across the U.S. In fact, Honest Game has already started acquiring international users for students who plan to attend colleges and universities in the U.S. Next, the company has its sights set on colleges and universities that could use the tool to build relationships and ensure a great start for incoming student athletes.
Best of all, Honest Game has a playbook—a scalable product and a plan that fuels the vision of the founders, a vision of helping young people achieve their dreams.