By James Kelley
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Friday Feb 1, 2002
NCAA proposing changing SAT and course work requirements
An NCAA committee proposal may toughen academic standards for student athletes at UA and across the country.
The proposal, which would not go into effect until the 2005-2006 school year, would require athletes to complete more of their required course work earlier in their college career and may change academic requirements for incoming freshmen.
Under the proposal - which the NCAA will vote on in October - athletes would be required to complete 40 percent of their required coursework by their third year, 60 percent by their fourth year and 80 percent by their fifth year.
As it stands, athletes must complete 25 percent of their course work toward their degree by the beginning of their third year, 50 percent by the fourth year and 75 percent by their fifth year.
"I don't think the course requirement change is bad," said Cassie Daniels, a soccer player and undeclared freshman. "It will make people focus more early on their degrees."
The goal of the percentage change is to increase the graduation rates, said Dick Bartsch, associate director of athletics.
"It helps student athletes with continuing and progressing towards a degree," said Athletic Director Jim Livengood. "After fours years, a student athlete would be in a much better position to graduate."
Fifty-three percent of athletes who entered UA in the 1994-1995 school year graduated within six years, as compared with 54 percent of the general student population, according to the Chronicle of Higher Education.
However, not all teams fared that well. Of the four classes of men's basketball players that entered the university between 1991-1992 and 1994-1995, only 13 percent graduated within six years.
Bartsch said the graduation rate can be deceptive because it does not account for transfer students.
"Right now, the graduation rates count anyone who attends or partially attends," Bartsch said. "It does not matter if a student athlete leaves early for the pros, transfers or leaves for personal reasons; and if one transfers here and graduates they are not counted."
The proposed change in requirements for incoming freshmen will increase the minimum number of core high school courses required for athletic eligibility as a freshman, and may also do away with a minimum required SAT score.
Currently, a student athlete qualifies by graduating from high school, completing 13 core classes with a grade point average of 2.0 and an SAT score of 1,010, or a 2.5 and an SAT score of 820. The proposal would also change the number of core courses to 14 and get rid of the standardized test requirement.
"I totally agree (with the proposal)," said Rebekah Quiroz, a softball player and communication freshman. "The SAT is not for everyone; some people are not good test takers. I also think it discriminates against minorities."
"I think it would bring more variety, more people of different backgrounds and increase the number of minorities to the UA," she added.
The proposal to abandon the SAT has met with some opposition, because a grade at one school, district or state does not necessarily equate to the same grade at another school, district or state, Bartsch said,.
"I think it is kind of bad," said Pete Fabian, a track and field athlete and operations management senior. "Some people don't get good grades but are naturally smart. I think the current requirements for freshmen are pretty fair," he said.
Still, there is strong national sentiment against the SAT, because it is believed to discriminate against minorities, and some alternative proposals have surfaced that place less emphasis on the test without limiting it entirely.
Although the proposal, if passed, would not go into effect until the 2005-2006 school year, individual universities would have the option of instituting the new standards beginning in the 2003-2004 school year.