- By Staff Editors
 - January 17, 1997

Memory Loss

How do you avoid enforcing a stricter academic policy for student athletes? If you're a UA administrator, you just forget about it.

If you're an "average" student at the UA - that is, not a well-recognized student leader or star athlete - you may find yourself feeling a little lost, a little forgotten by the administration every now and then.

Now it's easier to understand this forgotten feeling if you accept the excuse the administration tried to feed the Arizona Board of Regents at its meeting in Tempe on Wednesday. The excuse - that someone in the UA administration somehow (oops) forgot to implement a regents' policy that sets more stringent academic requirements for student athletes.

Darn those pesky policies, how can we expect the administration to remember them all?

The regents didn't seem to swallow the excuse - Regent Hank Amos appropriately called the error "inexcusable"- and neither should anyone else. It sounds more like someone forgot it's not OK to ignore regents' policies, even for the "good of the team."

The Board of Regents adopted the policy in November 1994. It sets stricter academic guidelines than those of the National Collegiate Athletic Association, requiring that student athletes must maintain at least a 1.8 grade point average in their third year, and in the forth, or after completing 96 credits, they must maintain a 2.0 GPA and go through a mid-year grade review. The NCAA policy calls for a review only at the beginning of the fall semester. The changes are already in effect at Arizona State University. It was the UA's own registrar's office that recently discovered the mistake when someone in the office was working with a student athlete.

Regent Judy Gignac told the Wildcat that, had the new requirements been put in place when they were supposed to have been, six athletes from various sports would have been affected, but she did not know who the six were.

At the regents meeting, UA administrators asked the board to allow them to wait to apply the policy so that it would take effect next semester, allowing student athletes time to adjust to the new standards.

The regents agreed - a reasonably fair move since it's not the students who are to blame for the blunder. In fact, when the regents adopted the policy two years ago, it would have given students one year notice before the stiffer requirements went into effect.

The University Attorneys' Office is now investigating the mistake, but it is unclear if there will be any disciplinary action taken if or when the office determines who was responsible.

The administration is saying no one is to blame, labeling it an "internal communications failure."

That sounds possible in a university this size.

But it also sounds suspicious at a school where athletics is such a big business. Consider that the Department of Intercollegiate Athletics generated revenues of $20 million in fiscal 1995, according to a Tucson Weekly article that appeared last year.

It sounds more like some person, or people, in the administration tried to sidestep the policy to make sure the university didn't loose any athletes, or any money.