Qualifying for the HSNCT

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Automatic Qualification

There are two ways in which a school may qualify for the NAQT High School National Championship Tournament, which in 2018 will be powered by LetterOne:

Invitations to the HSNCT are generally based on the NAQT High School Eligibility Rules, but hosts are permitted to deviate from NAQT’s eligibility rules. In such cases NAQT may deem a team not to have qualified even if their rank in a qualifying tournament suggests they should qualify. However, NAQT may choose to consider qualification based on other eligibility rules, as for events run by major state activities/athletic associations. In such cases, teams may qualify to the HSNCT despite not satisfying the High School Eligibility Rules, but if they attend the HSNCT, the team there must satisfy the High School Eligibility Rules.

NAQT reserves the right to adjust rankings submitted by hosts to better conform to game results. In such cases, if the host requests it, we will post both the original ranking and NAQT’s ranking (but qualification to the HSNCT will be based on NAQT’s ranking).

Skill-Based Divisions

If a tournament divides its field into varsity and junior varsity divisions (or similar divisions based on skill) that don’t compete against each other, then only teams from the varsity division may qualify for the HSNCT, but the number that qualify will be equal to 15% of the total field from both divisions (rounded up). For instance, if there are 10 varsity and 10 junior-varsity teams, then a total of 3 teams will qualify ((10 + 10) × 15% = 3), but they will all come from the varsity division. Winners of junior varsity divisions are encouraged to apply for wildcards.

School-Based Divisions

If a tournament divides its field into divisions based on school size and/or school type (e.g., public versus private) that don’t compete against each other, then each division will be considered a separate tournament for the sake of qualification. If 10 “class A” schools and 16 “class B” schools attend, then two (10 × (15%) = 1.5, which rounds up to 2) “class A” schools and three (16 × (15%) = 2.4, rounds to 3) “class B” schools will qualify for the HSNCT.

Qualifying Multiple Teams

In order to qualify multiple teams from the same school for the HSNCT, the teams must attend the same tournament and qualify independently. Teams that qualify at different tournaments—even if composed of entirely different students—do not provide their school with more than one berth at the HSNCT. Wildcard consideration will be given to additional teams from the same school that have demonstrated a high quality of play throughout the year.

Invitations Are Not Guaranteed Spots

Qualifying for the High School National Championship Tournament (that is, receiving an invitation) does not guarantee a team a spot in the field: The tournament has a limited field size, and it is likely that the field will fill and some qualified teams that wish to attend may not be able to. Teams are encouraged to register as soon as they know they have earned a berth (and have secured funding). It is registering for the championship, not qualifying, that guarantees a spot. A limited number of tournaments (mostly state championships) may have national championship berths reserved for their winners.

Other Events

NAQT reserves the right to designate additional tournaments as qualifiers for the HSNCT as it sees fit. This is extremely rare.

Wildcard Invitations

NAQT considers wildcard applications from schools that did not qualify by the above criteria but whose teams have demonstrated a high quality of play in academic competition throughout the year. Particular consideration will be given to schools that, for geographical reasons, had difficulty attending NAQT tournaments.

NAQT reserves the right to accept wildcard applications at any time after they have been submitted; that is, NAQT may accept particularly strong applications immediately but may postpone making a decision on others until further tournaments have completed or it has a better idea how many HSNCT spots will be taken by automatic qualifiers. Teams may inquire as to the status of their request at any time. NAQT understands that wildcard teams need to know whether or not they can attend the tournament as soon as possible and will make every effort to contact teams as soon as a final decision has been made about their request.

2019 HSNCT

Wildcard requests for the 2019 HSNCT may now be submitted. Applications will be accepted until May 17, 2019.

Due to MSHSAA rules, teams from Missouri that are members of MSHSAA are ineligible to receive wildcard berths.

Small School National Championship Tournament

Qualifiers for the HSNCT are also qualifiers for the Small School National Championship Tournament (SSNCT), assuming at least one small school is present. The SSNCT has its own qualification rules; even if a (small-school) team doesn’t qualify for the HSNCT, it may qualify for the SSNCT.


Tournament directors may allow teams composed of students from different schools to compete (and possibly even win) their events, but such mixed teams are ineligible to receive SSNCT bids and will not be counted to determine the size of the event’s field.

Standby Teams

Teams located near the tournament site may be interested in attending on a standby basis, even if they have not qualified. Standby teams are not guaranteed a spot in the field, but if there is a last-minute cancellation, they’ll replace the missing team without paying a registration fee.

Special Rulings

NAQT has made a number of special rulings regarding unusual qualification situations.


Questions, comments, or suggestions may be directed to NAQT at hsnct@naqt.com.

Tournament Schedule

NAQT maintains a schedule of high school tournaments, TV shows, conferences, and leagues.

View Schedule

Learn More About the 2019 HSNCT

The 2019 High School National Championship Tournament will take place May 24–26, 2019 at the Atlanta Marriott Marquis in Atlanta, Georgia.

Read More

Wildcard Requests for the 2019 HSNCT

Wildcard requests for the 2019 High School National Championship Tournament are now being considered.

Begin Wildcard Request