NCAA Proposal Eases Standard For Student Athletes.
by Charles S. Farrell
The National Collegiate Athletic Association Council, the NCAA's governing body, has developed a proposal that many feel will provide more opportunity for African American athletes to attend top NCAA institutions.
Under the new proposal, athletes would need at least a 610 on the SAT and a 2.5 grade-point average in a core curriculum of 13 college preparatory courses to participate in sports as freshmen. A 2.0 grade-point average would have to be offset by an 810 SAT score.
The proposal, to be voted on in January at the organization's annual convention, would replace current academic standards, if approved. Current standards require freshmen athletes to have a 2.0 grade-point average and a 700 SAT score. These standards are due to become more stringent after the NCAA-passed Proposition 16 takes effect next year, requiring a sliding scale that would leave the minimum SAT at 700, but require a 2.5 grade-point average in the 13 core curriculum courses.
Academic standards have been an on-going source of controversy for many who consider the test score to be biased against African Americans, who historically score lower, on average, on standardized tests than their white counterparts.
The Black Coaches Association (BCA) raised the issue of standardized tests and other points of contention last winter when the association threatened to boycott games -- prompting an NCAA special review committee to recommend a scale that would permit an SAT score as low as 410 for freshman eligibility.
Last June, the NCAA Presidents Commission rejected the review committee's recommendation, sticking with the 700 SAT cutoff that has been in effect since 1986. But the commission will sponsor a proposal in January that would allow freshman who score between 600 and 699 on the SAT and have 2.50 to 2.75 grade-point averages in core subjects to receive athletic scholarships and practice with their teams.
The latest proposal by the council was adopted at a quarterly meeting, with NCAA President Joseph Crowley explaining that research mandated that the council give the NCAA members an opportunity to decide whether to change existing rules. He said the council's action was not in opposition to the presidents commission, since the presidents commission's proposed legislation was similar.
The Black Coaches Association said the council's action indicated a willingness to address the association's concerns.
Charles Whitcomb, chairman of the NCAA Minority Opportunities and Interests Committee, said he supports the council's action as "appropriate." Said Whitcomb: "We have found that the majority of students who fall in the 600 to 700 SAT range can have success in college, so the [council's] proposal meets our concerns about providing opportunities for minority student athletes. …