Student Achievement

Student-Athlete Reforms Face Uncertain Future at NCAA Convention

By Bryan Toporek — January 11, 2012 3 min read
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The NCAA annual convention gets under way today in Indianapolis, and high school student-athletes would be wise to pay close attention to the fate of two proposals that will be reconsidered by the Division I board of directors this week.

One proposal would allow schools to offer student-athletes up to an extra $2,000 of scholarship money per year, assuming that the extra money didn’t exceed the full cost of attendance. The other would give schools the ability to offer multiyear athletic scholarships, unlike the current model, where athletic scholarships must be renewed on a year-to-year basis.

Both proposals were passed back in late October. However, at least 75 schools signed a petition during the 60-day override period for each, sending them both back to the board of directors.

The board has three choices this week: It can do nothing and leave the legislation as is, sending it to a full member vote; kill the proposal now, due to the override; or tweak the proposal, making it eligible for another 60-day override period.

“Our process allows for vigorous comment and debate, and many of our members have spoken that they want to further consider and review how to best support their student-athletes,” said NCAA President Mark Emmert in a statement. “Both the Division I board and the Student-Athlete Working Group have listened, and the working group has recommended changes that will simplify and make fairer the allowance of additional resources for student-athletes.”

The board will be meeting on Saturday to decide the fate of both proposals.

Those are just two of many high-school-related issues worth tracking this week at the NCAA convention, which will focus a great deal on academics, according to the organization.

For one, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan will be delivering a keynote address around lunchtime today. Given the academic focus of the convention, there appears to be a solid chance Duncan will touch upon that theme. [UPDATE: Go to the bottom of the post for highlights from Duncan’s keynote.]

The NCAA’s Committee on Academic Progress is also scheduled to meet tomorrow to discuss changes to academic standards for NCAA basketball players that were implemented last year. The committee will offer a suggested timeline for the NCAA to implement its new requirement that teams achieve a 930 Academic Progress Rate to be eligible for the postseason.

If implemented in the 2012-13 school year as originally planned, it’s expected that the defending national champion in men’s basketball, University of Connecticut, would be deemed ineligible for postseason play (in the men’s tournament).

If you want to follow along with the convention online, you can visit the website or try and catch one of the eight sessions being livestreamed this year.

Stay tuned for updates from convention later this week, and once the board of directors meets on Saturday.

UPDATE, 4:50 p.m.: As expected, when Arne Duncan took the stage for his lunchtime keynote conversation today, he focused extensively on the academic side of being a student-athlete.

I haven’t seen a full transcript of Duncan’s speech yet, but here are some highlights, based on what I’ve seen coming in from Twitter:

• Duncan praised the NCAA for raising academic standards for incoming students (a move made back in October). “Raising the academic bar is always the right thing to do,” he said.

• He encouraged schools to not often give special admittance to athletes, saying, “students should not play until they are academically prepared to be college students.”

• He said that college administrators should make the baseline for reform be, “Is this good for the students?”

• On a similar note, Duncan encouraged NCAA leaders to “challenge the status quo to better align your work with your moral compass.”

• Duncan said that schools in Bowl Championship Series conferences should spend some bowl money on academic enhancements. He also commended Division II and Division III schools for finding a balance between academics and athletics, saying, “Division I could learn a lot from the Division III model.”

UPDATE, Jan. 13, 3:00 p.m.: The Dept. of Ed. has now posted a full copy of Duncan’s speech to the NCAA.


A version of this news article first appeared in the Schooled in Sports blog.