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NCAA Continues to Remodel 2016 Academic Standards

Have you ever decided to remodel a room in your home? The process is time consuming. The research with your spouse is endless. What paint color, which fixtures and what type of cabinets will provide the desired results?

The NCAA has essentially been doing the same thing with its initial-eligibility academic standards for Division I. And, as is frequently the case with homeowners, when the work is done, the conceptual ideas behind the selected paint, fixtures and cabinets do not always match the anticipated results.

So, a year and a half into this process, here we go again.  


October 2011 – The NCAA approves sweeping legislative changes for DI initial-eligibility standards for the class of 2015. Included are a higher minimum GPA of 2.30, plus 10 core classes required to be completed prior to senior year with seven of those classes coming from the English, math, and science subsections. In addition, the grades earned in the 10 core classes are “locked in” and may not be retaken during the senior year.

February 2012 – The NCAA announces its new SAT/ACT DI sliding scale. The minimum score increases by 180 points for the SAT, and a range of 14-17 points (sum score) for the ACT. The NCAA also announces a new term – Academic Redshirt. NCAA data reveals that 43% of basketball recruits and 35% of football recruits from the graduating class of 2009-10 would not have met these new academic standards.

April 2012 – Fearing that there is not enough notification time to educate high school coaches, counselors, parents and student-athletes about the higher academic standards, the NCAA delays the new academic requirements by one year. They will now begin with the class of 2016 instead of the class of 2015.

May 2013 – The NCAA Division I Board votes to drop the increased SAT/ACT sliding scale for the class of 2016 and will instead keep the current sliding scale in place. All other higher academic standards (2.30 GPA, 10 core courses prior to senior year, etc.) will remain in effect.

Here is the issue. When you and I decide to do some remodeling, the world isn’t going to know or care if we initially selected the wrong paint and then decided to tweak our new look. The NCAA, on the other hand, is a very large, public entity with more cabinets than Martha Stewart’s mansion. Constant changes to the NCAA’s published standards negatively impact millions of high school athletes, parents, coaches and counselors, who are often confused by the NCAA’s initial-eligibility process.

These changes were not made on a whim. They were discussed, researched, and further discussed by our some of our nation’s most influential and respected university presidents. So, why the most recent reversal on the sliding scale? Why now? The desired results haven’t even had time to play out.

It appears that once again the decision makers (college presidents) and those directly impacted by the changes (college coaches and athletic directors) were not on the same page. The often conflicting goals of higher academic standards vs. athletic opportunity collided, bringing us to this latest round of new paint.

Let’s just hope this latest step in the renovation is the last. For the sake of the millions impacted, it’s time to put down the tools and brushes and let the new color soak in. 


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