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Archive for Tuesday, January 14, 1992

CAYWOOD COLUMN

January 14, 1992

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Hiking minimums is wrong move by NCAA fathers

Wasn't there recently a big row over discrimination at a number of the nation's poshest country clubs?

Makes you wonder if fans and corporate sponsors will soon boycott major-college sports, since the Presidents Commission has just turned the NCAA into a more exclusive club that will be harder for minorities to join.

Let's back up to last week when the presidents decided that, to receive an NCAA athletic scholarship, incoming freshmen needed an additional two core classes and a minimum core grade-point average of 2.5 instead of 2.0.

Half a grade point doesn't seem like a lot unless you have a 2.0. Then, according to the new sliding scale, you need a 21 on your ACT or a 900 on your SAT to receive a grant, up from 17 and 700.

Nebraska officials saw this coming you remember Nebraska, one of the states that has tried to legislate the NCAA into due process, if not good taste and compiled statistics, which NU football coach Tom Osborne presented at the NCAA convention.

"FORTY-EIGHT percent of our minority students would have had between 2.0 and 2.5 in their core courses," Osborne said. "Almost half would be eliminated, assuming they don't raise their standards. The whites would have had 15 to 16 percent who would not have had a 2.5."

College admissions tests have long been criticized on the grounds that they are racially biased. Nebraska's numbers say that GPA requirements are, too, under the new rules.

Reform is all the NCAA rage, of course. The presidents think their universities are receiving high school graduates who are ill-prepared for the rigors of college curricula. In many cases, they're probably right.

They finally have decided that high school jocks or their teachers or somebody down there had better shape up. With higher standards, the NCAA fathers hope to impress upon high school kids that they have to do better and do it earlier.

But the means do not accomplish the end.

THE STUDENT who has direction whether from his parents, teachers or whomever will try to do well in school regardless of where the NCAA sets its minimums.

But it's not realistic to expect the student who isn't interested in school to suddenly realize, "Hey, I'd better do a better job in class even though I'm just in the ninth grade, because four years down the road I may want a scholarship to an NCAA school, and by then it will be too late to pull up my GPA."

That's a real scenerio. Lawrence High assistant football coach Dirk Wedd told me that, in his years as an aide at Wichita State, he saw numerous athletes who bombed their first year or two in high school but turned it around once they were recruited and knew they had a chance at a scholarship. In many cases, he said, they brought their grades up far enough to qualify.

NOW THAT is that much harder. Pulling a bad GPA up to 2.0 was hard enough. Adding another half a grade point is like adding 2,000 feet to Pike's Peak.

Those who don't qualify under NCAA guidelines can still attend junior colleges and NAIA schools. Both are fine alternatives, but that's not the point.

The point is that an avenue has been blocked to a larger segment of the population.

That's why the NCAA presidents' move was elitist. If that's a title they don't want, they ought to be more concerned with educating people than turning them away.

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