John Fizel and Timothy Smaby
The stereotype of the “dumb jock” seems to have coincided with the advent of collegiate sports. Similarly, so began the tales of the unethical means by which many varsity athletes are recruited and kept eligible. Revelations such as falsified transcripts, credit for phantom courses, surrogates for tests, phony test scores, and illiterate athletes have continually tarnished the reputation of college sports (Bergmann, 1991; Sperber, 1990; Telander, 1989). These violations appear to have been exacerbated by the financial climate of contemporary sports. Winning programs attract lucrative television money, bowl and tourney bids, alumni donations, and high attendance figures. While coaches may publicly espouse that their athletes are students first and athletes second, they and their institutions have a strong financial interest in recruiting good players and keeping them eligible by whatever means possible (Knight Foundation Commission, 1991; Lederman, 1991).
Historically, the organization responsible for policing collegiate athletic programs, the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), had focused on violations of amateurism—such as athletes receiving financial inducements to play—and neglected the investigation of charges that athletes might be receiving an inferior education. Recently, however, the NCAA has enacted reforms designed to put the “student” back into “student athlete.” Propositions 48 and 42 define specific academic eligibility criteria for freshmen athletes. These criteria consist of a sliding scale that focuses on the grade