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Regents discuss tougher academic restrictions

By Cyndy Cole
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Monday Mar. 25, 2002

NCAA proposal would not require UA to raise requirements

YUMA - Changes in National Collegiate Athletic Association rules spurred by the recent Knight Commission report were the topic of a two-hour discussion at the Arizona Board of Regents meeting Thursday.

The new standards for improving college athlete's academic performance could prove advantageous to the University of Arizona in recruiting student athletes, if approved, because other universities would have to adopt more rigorous academic requirements.

The NCAA developed these new standards following the release of the Knight Commission report, which was released last year, found that student-athletes across the country are performing poorly in the classroom.

But the tougher NCAA standards would have little impact on UA, where minimum academic standards are already above those proposed by the NCAA.

For example, UA requires student athletes to complete at least 16 core courses like math, science and English before being eligible for admission. The NCAA is considering raising standards to require 14 core courses for admission.

"What (the proposed NCAA change) says to coaches is that if you're going to recruit somebody, you better make sure that person will be successful at your institution," said Doug Wooder, who sits on the subcommittee that reviews and proposes changes to the NCAA.

The proposed changes in NCAA rules would also require college athletes to complete at least 24 credits before the beginning of their sophomore year and hold a GPA equivalent to 90 percent of the GPA required for graduation.

The new rules would affect about 3 percent of college athletes, who NCAA officials hope will be challenged to boost their grades.

Athletes would also have to carry a heavier course load, completing 40, 60 and 80 percent of their classes during their third, fourth and fifth years, instead of the current NCAA requirement of 25, 50 and 75 percent completion for the same years.

The new rules would require an athlete to hold the GPA needed for graduation before entering their junior year. Currently, the NCAA rule states that a college athlete must have a 1.8 GPA before starting their junior year and a 1.9 GPA entering senior year.

Since the regents already require all UA students to have a 2.0, the GPA required for graduation, before they begin their fourth year, the higher NCAA requirements would boost standards at other schools comparatively.

The average GPA for male athletes at UA is 0.23 points lower than the general student body population, and the department of athletics plans to hire one more graduate assistant to help student-athletes.

"All of our student athletes have a learning disability: lack of time," said Regent Gary Stuart.

However two of the proposed changes would make it easier for student athletes to get into college and lighten their course load.

Athletes would only have to earn a combined score of either 400 or 620, total, on the SATs to be admitted to a college or university. That's down from the 820 total the NCAA requires now.

"You'd almost have to know the right answers to get that many wrong," said Regent Fred Boice of the proposed minimum test scores.

Athletes could also take more summer classes by being required to take six credits per semester instead of 12 for a total of 18 credits per year, some of which would come from summer courses.

However, the NCAA is, arguably, not making school tougher for athletes. Under the proposed changes, athletes could be admitted to colleges with lower grades or test scores, be required to register for fewer classes each semester and receive more tutoring outside class.

The idea, said officials who advise the NCAA, is that lower admissions standards are alright, because coach's and athlete's success should be judged largely by how many athletes graduate in the end.


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