But the problem
is much too deep and the abuses too vast to expect reformers, no matter how
well motivated, to make a decisive impact. Without legislation and a rebirth of
concern for individual (as opposed to fiscal) uplift, "the most cynical
observers expect that inequities, abuses, double standards, malpractices and
associated internecine warfare in athletic programs and organizations will
continue." The words are not SPORTS ILLUSTRATED'S, they are those of Pace
University's Ewald Nyquist in a report for the American Council on
discontinue them? Coaches, administrators and academicians are not in agreement
on any one method, but it would be accurate to say that a distillation of their
ideas leads to one sure conviction: that the standards have to be raised. That
they must be raised first with the colleges so that the effect will filter down
and a hard reality made to dawn: that if the athletes are not educated, they
will not be admitted, much less graduated.
Immediately, as a
first step, the 2.0 Rule for admitting student-athletes to college should be
abolished in favor of something a lot tougher. Toughening up the standards
would serve two immediate purposes: 1) it would put more pressure on the high
schools to prepare their athletes, and 2) it would cut down on the number of
non-students who are in college on a bye and are merely marking time in hopes
that there will be pro life after educational death.
But how tough do
you make the new standards? At present, the best alternative is the "triple
option," supported on the NCAA convention floor two years ago and endorsed
by the American Football Coaches Association. The "triple option" would
begin initially with a 2.25 grade-point-average requirement, instead of the
present 2.0. If a high school graduate didn't have that, he could qualify for a
scholarship by having either a combined verbal and math SAT score of 750 or a
17 on the ACT.
standards are up, the following measures should be considered to increase the
student-athlete's chances of obtaining a meaningful education—and a degree. The
suggestions were culled from a large number of coaches and academicians, and
although they don't necessarily reflect the majority opinion, they do encompass
what seems to be the better thinking:
1) Postpone the
annual signing of high school seniors to athletic scholarships at least until
March to give coaches and college registrars a chance to review more
intensively grades, test scores, etc.
2) Funnel all
high school transcripts of scholarship athletes through a central agency at the
NCAA offices. If an incoming athlete is caught with an altered transcript,
permanently ban him from intercollegiate competition. If the college coach had
a hand in it, permanently ban him, too. If the high school is guilty, let the
local school board know about it—in no uncertain terms.
3) Make the
percentage of athletes enrolled through affirmative-action programs
proportionate to the percentage admitted by the school for the entire incoming
class, i.e., if the college has a "4% rule," permit only 4% of the
incoming scholarship athletes to be admitted under affirmative-action
provisions. If that is found to be too strict a formula, strike one agreeable
to the NCAA membership and force all members to comply.
freshman eligibility. An athlete needs his first year in college to become
acclimatized and to satisfy the deans that his classroom program is leading
toward a degree. Allow him to attend a pre-freshman-year summer session on
scholarship to take whatever remedial courses he might also need.
uniform NCAA-wide minimum guidelines for "normal progress," so that all
institutions are playing by the same rules. Establish a system for reviewing
and monitoring progress. Allow access to transcripts by an NCAA arbitrator if a
challenge is made by a rival school. If progress is not being made in
accordance with the guidelines, make the athlete ineligible for competition and
put the school on probation.