Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Test Case: Black Coaches Keep Vigil as Academic Standards Rise

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Test Case: Black Coaches Keep Vigil as Academic Standards Rise

Article excerpt

All things being equal there'd be no need for Rudy Washington's indignation, or insurrection by the 3,000-strong Black Coaches Association.

No need for threats of boycotts.

No need for Washington, founder and executive director of the BCA, to go beyond coaching basketball and guiding his players into manhood at Drake University.

No doubt, Washington would rather coach than trumpet convictions that pit him against the powerful, reform-minded National Collegiate Athletic Association and its academic standards.

And there'd be no need for cluttering our minds with anything beyond scores and stats. We're tired of reading about strikes, salary caps and stalled negotiations. Drop the puck already! Let's play ball! Any kind of ball, please!

Of course, all things aren't equal.

Inner-city high schools aren't cocoons for future criminals. Neither are their students doomed to lifestyles of the poor and defamed.

Still, some inner-city schools, faced with dwindling tax bases, can't afford the newest textbooks, state-of-the-art equipment and finest facilities. They often settle for something less: decaying buildings, busted equipment and well-thumbed textbooks.

Add to that the violence on the street that sometimes strays into the schools. Under these cloying circumstances, it's no wonder that many of the students cool once confronted with college entrance exams.

"You cannot create standards in college until you create standards in high school," Washington told a reporter for the Minneapolis-St. Paul Star Tribune. "We have not standardized high schools."

So, in this corner, there's a stitch of sympathy for Washington's controversial stance.

If all schools or college boards were created equal, an African-American student from an inner-city school would be able to meet the NCAA standards.

Many do.

Going into this week's NCAA meeting in San Diego, black coaches planned to closely watch the proceedings, Temple's John Chaney said.

"We'll have a response afterward," Chaney said. No, he added, the coaches opposed to the stiffer academic standards hadn't given up the struggle though things have been a tad quiet since the talk of a boycott more than a year ago. …

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