As a black, I found the comments attributed to black educators in your editorial (SCORECARD, Jan. 24) on the NCAA's Proposal 48 very disturbing. Their statements should not be construed as a reflection of the general attitudes of the black community. I believe blacks have nothing to fear and much to gain from equal competition in educational or athletic matters. Instead of saying the proposal discriminates against blacks, black educators should welcome it as another opportunity to refute the allegations of some racists.
Unquestionably, there is cultural bias in the Scholastic Aptitude Test and the American College Test; however, the amount of bias has been reduced to a point approaching statistical insignificance. Based upon the attitudes attributed to black educators in your article, one could easily conclude that the primary reason for poor performance of black student-athletes is black educators. If black educators persist in the kind of nonsense presented in your article, it will become cause for non-support of black institutions.
HERBERT F SMITH II
The saving grace for Proposal 48 is Proposal 49b, which also passed and which stipulates that a school may still award scholarships to athletes who don't meet the requirements of Proposal 48, provided the school postpones the commencement of the athletes' varsity eligibility until they have acceptably completed their freshman academic program. Good move. Student-athletes will have an opportunity to enter college, concentrate on the books and prove that they are college material more reliably than any test scores ever will. And the schools will be making an honorable full year's investment in an athlete before using him as box office bait.
Perhaps the most significant aspect of this clause is that because of it black athletes and black schools will not be effectively eliminated from NCAA competition. Whether this clause was adopted for precisely that reason raises an interesting question, but not a crucial one. Far more important is the protecting of our talented youth from exploitation on the one hand and from handicapped futures on the other. The NCAA's motives as well as its solutions are still questionable, but it can at least be commended for opening up this can of worms. It is now up to all of us to keep it open and deal with it.
SHELLY L. MOORE
It is evident that there is a major problem with collegiate athletics, but the answer to it is not Proposal 48. The solution is to once again declare all freshmen ineligible for varsity sports and use their first academic year as a standard for eligibility. This would not only help athletes concentrate on being students, but it would also alleviate some of the recruiting hype currently brought to bear on high school seniors.
As for Dr. Randolph's potshot at non-athletic admission standards: I've yet to hear about a musician or cheerleader who graduated from college reading at the third-grade level. I can't say the same for the college jock.
According to black educators, the shortcoming of the newly adopted NCAA academic requirements is that they will have a discriminatory and devastating effect on the black athlete. Blacks opposed to the plan are not opposed because the NCAA is dealing with the problem of the exploited and uneducated student-athlete. The opposition stems instead from the particular method employed by the NCAA.
For years blacks have contended that the admissions tests used by academic institutions are culturally biased and therefore inherently unreliable. Blacks historically have scored lower than whites on these "standardized" tests. Because of this, colleges generally do not make test scores the sole or determining factor for admission. Of overriding significance is the fact that standardized test scores have often proved to be an unreliable barometer for predicting success in college, especially as applied to the black student. Although proponents of the NCAA plan argue that these standards are only for the purpose of determining athletic eligibility in the first year, in reality college coaches, under pressure to win, will not award many scholarships to students who cannot make an immediate contribution to the victory column.
Let's not blindly accept this NCAA proposal. The general idea is fine, but the suggested guidelines are discriminatory. The opportunity to succeed must not be denied by dependence on a biased measure. Let's go back to the drawing board and establish standards that are fair for all.
ROBERT E. WALLACE JR.
Attorney for the St. Louis Football Cardinals Guilfoil Petzall & Shoemake