Editorial

    Last week, the National Collegiate Athletic Association announced a set of changes to the academic criteria that athletes must meet in order to play Division I sports. The plan is intended to place more weight on GPA rather than SAT score, reflecting a trend in college admissions, and to push collegiate athletes to perform at a higher level of achievement in the classroom.

    While the plan is admirable in its attempt to force sports stars to hit the books, it features some interesting contradictions and unrealistic goals that make it possible that educational quality will actually decrease overall.

    The most touted change in eligibility requirements is the removal of the lower limit from SAT scores. Currently, students are only eligible to compete in Division I athletics if they have scored an 820 or higher on the SAT. Now, even a student scoring a 400 on the SAT — the lowest possible mark — could be eligible, providing he has a very high GPA to balance out the low SAT score. This effectively gives more weight to a student’s GPA, while reducing the importance of the purportedly culturally biased SAT.

    To be realistic, anyone who scores a 400 or 500 on the SAT is almost certainly not prepared for college-level academics. Furthermore, a student whose academic preparation is low enough that he would receive such a depressed SAT score, yet whose GPA is high enough to secure him eligibility, has probably benfitted from gross grade inflation, and is again unprepared for college.

    Lately the sports world has seen amazingly talented high school students bypassing collegiate athletics because they would be academically ineligible to compete, and going straight into professional sports. This move to lower SAT requirements is clearly a bid to get these talented athletes into NCAA play — and the money derived from their championship-worthy play into the NCAA’s and schools’ coffers.

    It is true that the money made from championships and ticket sales ultimately goes back to the students and can serve to improve their education, and so admitting these talented but academically unprepared athletes to major colleges may in fact help the school-minded students. But it cannot be ignored that the NCAA is encouraging grade inflation and the admittance of students who are probably not prepared for a rigorous academic environment — which can only lead to more grade inflation and has the potential to diminish the value of classroom time.

    The Guardian feels that while these reforms could benefit college athletics and college educations, the NCAA must be strict in monitoring their impacts and enforcing academic excellence.

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