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Academics Suffer in Big-Time Sports, Survey Finds

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College football and basketball players--particularly those on highly competitive teams--generally left high school with relatively weak academic records that will extend throughout their higher-education experience, according to a study sponsored by the National Collegiate Athletic Association.

"Big-time" college athletes had lower grade averages in high school and scored less well on standardized tests than did students involved in other sports or extracurricular activities, the study found.

In college, the athletes tend to spend less time on their studies and receive lower grades than their peers.

The study is the first in a series of efforts by the ncaa to obtain hard data on the controversial--but, until now, largely undocumented--subject of the effects of participation in intercollegiate athletics on students' personal and academic lives.

It was based on a survey of 2,925 athletes and 1,158 students in4volved in other extracurricular activites, such as drama and journalism, at 42 colleges and universities that belong to the ncaa's Division I, its top athletic level.

Test Scores

Football and basketball players reported an average score of 18.2, out of a possible 35, on the American College Testing Program assessment and an 883.3, out of a possible 1,600, on the Scholastic Aptitude Test.

Participants in other sports had an average act score of 19.2 and an sat average of 919.3, while students in other extracurricular activities had a 21.4 act average and a 990.2 sat average, the study found.

Football and basketball players reported that they had earned a B average in high school. That was about a quarter of a grade lower than the average of the other students in the survey.

Not surprisingly, football and basketball players reported that they 8were the objects of more intense recruiting pressure during high school than other athletes or those involved in different activities.

Among football and basketball players, 67.6 percent reported "extremely intense" or "intense" pressure to attend a particular college or university, compared with a little more than a third of other students who reported such pressure.

Still, most students said recruitment efforts helped them make the right college choice.

The survey also found that football and basketball players at the most athletically competitive colleges devote more time to their sports, particularly during the season of play, than they do to their school work--the opposite of the experience of other students.

The grade-point average of football and basketball players in college was 2.46, compared with 2.61 for other athletes and 2.79 for students in other activities.--mw

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