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NCAA Approves Sweeping Academic and Scholarship Changes

Mark down the day. October 27, 2011.  It’s the day the NCAA, whose employee kitchens are rumored to still have only wood burning stoves, showed that change, even in their hallways, is possible.

Most sweeping of the approvals?  New academic standards for Division I freshman eligibility and the ability to provide more than a one year guarantee for an athletic scholarship.

Approval #1: Starting with the class of 2015 (today’s high school freshman class) incoming collegiate D1 athletes must have a minimum 2.30 GPA in 16 core courses.  This is a rather significant increase from the previous standard of 2.00.  A new higher D1 sliding scale for SAT/ACT scores should also soon be released.

Also intriguing is the approval to require PSA’s (prospective student-athlete) to complete 10 of the 16 core class requirements by the end of their junior year of high school.  The 10 core requirement by the end of junior year, no doubt, is a preemptive strike against credit recovery and distance learning classes.

Approval #2: The ability for D1 athletic programs to provide more than a one year scholarship. This brings to light perhaps the most misunderstood myth of recruiting…THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS A FULL RIDE! And, technically, there still isn’t.

Until October 27, 2011, all athletic scholarships where one-year renewable offers.  Schools had the ability to revoke a scholarship each year, for any reason, and frequently did.  On annual basis, universities were required to provide the student-athlete, in writing, their plans for providing athletic aid for the upcoming year.  Now, that is no longer the case…if the D1 universities decide to exercise this new option.

And that is indeed, is a big “if.”

D1 athletic programs will now be provided the opportunities to guarantee MORE than a 1-year athletic scholarship.  How this will play out remains to be seen.

Will big-time D1 programs feel a need to provide an extra incentive?  Or, might this be an opportunity for mid-major D1 programs to gain some leverage against their larger and wealthier competition by guaranteeing a scholarship for 2, 3 or even 4 years?

The academic change is concrete.  The scholarship changes should play out shortly after the popcorn in the NCAA kitchen is cooked…however long that takes.

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