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N.C.A.A. Affirms Tougher Academic Requirements

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The National Collegiate Athletic Association voted last week to continue its plans to toughen academic standards for incoming freshmen in the nation's larger colleges and universities, but postponed implementation of most of them for one year.

The vote at the annual N.C.A.A. convention in San Diego, also offers some leeway to freshmen.

Since passage of the standards known as Proposition 16 in 1992, the association had been under pressure to weaken them.

Some groups, including the Black Coaches Association, sought to overturn Proposition 16. They have argued that minority students will be disproportionately affected by the new requirements, primarily because of the reliance on standardized tests that critics claim are racially biased.

Implementation Delayed

Supporters of the proposition, however, were so fearful that the N.C.A.A. lacked resolve that the Knight Foundation Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics resurrected itself last fall to lobby college and university presidents to keep the tougher standards. (See Education Week, 11/02/94.)

The commission was a leading voice in calling for greater academic accountability in college sports.

Most of the more stringent eligibility requirements will be postponed for one year to insure that the wrinkles have been worked out of the Scholastic Assessment Test, which the N.C.A.A. uses as one criterion of eligibility. The College Board, which administers the college-entrance examination, is reconfiguring the test's scores.

Kathryn Reith, an N.C.A.A. spokeswoman, said delaying the prerequisites until August 1996 will also give ample notice to high school students, coaches, and their parents.

Among the results of last week's vote were:

  • Maintaining one new requirement that, as of this coming August, student athletes must pass 13 core academic courses to qualify, an increase from 11;
  • Postponing until fall 1996 requirements that students who want to play for Division I schools earn a 2.0 grade-point average in those 13 courses and score a minimum of 900 on the S.A.T. or 21 on the American College Testing program; and
  • Adding a provision that students with scores as low as 700 on the S.A.T. and 17 on the A.C.T. could still qualify if their G.P.A.'s rose accordingly.

Currently, students need either a 700 on the S.A.T. or 17 on the A.C.T., in addition to a 2.0 G.P.A.

Requirements for Division II schools are unchanged--a 2.0 G.P.A. and a 700 on the S.A.T. or 17 on the A.C.T.

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