NCAA Toughens Rules On High School Recruits

The NCAA granted new powers to its officials last week to scrutinize the academic records of high school recruits. The change comes after in-house and public concern that some high schools ease curriculum for their athletes to make them eligible for the college sport league.

The league hopes that the new policies will immediately stem the presence of high school “diploma mills.” It has also commissioned a year-long study to find solutions for the poor academic performances of baseball players.

In March, a relatively hefty number of baseball teams had their scholarships cut by the NCAA because of subpar academic performances by athletes. The same reductions happened last winter, with baseball teams receiving the most penalties of any sport except football.

The enforcement followed a report by the New York Times, which revealed that a high school in Florida allowed over a dozen of its athletes to forge their academic records in order to meet eligibility requirements. Also, the emergence of “nontraditional” schools, which offer diplomas and courses to students that fail at their state-accredited high schools, are allowing athletes to meet NCAA eligibility requirements in only a few weeks or months. Some of the schools even sold diplomas.

After the scandal, an NCAA committee, which investigates eligibility trends, initially recommended adopting policies that would give more authority to the NCAA Clearinghouse, a body that spearheads the group’s assessment of high school recruits.

“There is a shared responsibility among the NCAA, member institutions that apply admissions standards and state authorities who determine the eligibility of secondary institutions,” President Myles Brand said during the meeting in which the association passed the policies.

The new rules will give the body the power to investigate the student records of recruits that attend any high school not approved by the state. The NCAA will also be able to make visits to those schools to further scrutinize the academic abilities of athletes.

The NCAA is planning to strictly enforce its policies, according to Brand, who said that he wants to “ferret out fraud” by partnering with state attorney generals to shut down schools violating policy.

During their meeting, NCAA officials also considered reducing the number of games a college team is allowed to play during the baseball season. The change, however, was tabled. Brand said that baseball teams’ academic problems lie beyond the length of the season.