The whirlwind of debate surrounding college freshman athletic eligibility is enough to make a prospective student-athlete's -- or even a major-college athletic director's -- head spin.
Prompted in part by complaints from the Black Coaches Assn. that NCAA rules discriminated against black student-athletes, the NCAA's Special Committee to Review Initial-Eligibility Standards last week recommended sweeping revisions to the NCAA's Proposition 48.
The proposed new set of rules to determine freshman eligibility would take effect in August 1996.
Put simply, the proposal would reduce the importance of the SAT and ACT -- standardized tests that have drawn criticism for cultural bias -- by implementing a sliding scale. Thus, a student could make up for a low grade point average with a high test score, or a high GPA could make up for a low standardized test score.
"That would respond to the concern of the BCA and others that there is a cultural bias within standardized tests," Kansas athletic director Bob Frederick said.
Currently, student-athletes must score 700 on the SAT or 17 on the ACT and have a 2.0 GPA in 11 core high school courses to be eligible.
The new standards that drew criticism from the BCA would have raised the SAT minimum to 900 for students with a 2.0 GPA and boosted the core-course minimum to 13. Students with a 700 SAT would have been required to have a 2.5 GPA.
Under last week's proposal, students with a 2.0 GPA in 13 core classes would need an 810 on the SAT. However, the SAT slides down for students with higher GPAs. A student with a core GPA of 3.0 could be eligible with an SAT score of 410, while a student with a 2.5 GPA could have a 610 SAT score.
The proposal will be submitted to the Presidents Commission at its June 28-29 meeting, then to the NCAA Council in August and, possibly, to the full membership in January. The NCAA presidents have vowed never to reduce admission standards below 700 on the SAT.
"I don't know what the response of the Presidents Commission will be," Frederick said. "That will have a large amount to say what happens to it. I'm not sure that the Presidents Commission will retreat from its stance.
"But it does give the opportunity for those who don't test well to make up for it in the classroom. I'm OK with that."
Of course, the issue could become moot, thanks to an announcement from the College Board that it's altering the SAT to raise scores.
The new scoring system -- designed to "recenter" the SAT to more accurately reflect the average -- is to take effect in August 1995, and the College Board expects some scores to improve by as much as 100 points.
"Oh boy, I hadn't heard anything about that," Frederick said. "That could really change some things."