Archive for Thursday, December 31, 2009

Admissions exemptions help athletes

Kansas linemen square off during warm-ups for the spring game on Saturday at Memorial Stadium.

Kansas linemen square off during warm-ups for the spring game on Saturday at Memorial Stadium.

December 31, 2009


KU too

77 schools in the Football Bowl Subdivision, including KU, have used special admissions waivers.

If grades make you a long shot for college, you’re much more likely to get a break if you can play ball.

An Associated Press review of admissions data submitted to the NCAA by most of the 120 schools in college football’s top tier shows that athletes enjoy strikingly better odds of having admission requirements bent on their behalf.

The notion that college athletes’ talents give them a leg up in the admissions game isn’t a surprise. But in what NCAA officials called the most extensive review to date, the AP found the practice is widespread and can be found in every major conference.

The review identified at least 27 schools where athletes were at least 10 times more likely to benefit from special admission programs than students in the general population.

That group includes 2009 Bowl Championship Series teams Oregon, Georgia Tech and Alabama, which is playing Texas for the national title Jan. 7.

At Alabama, 19 football players got in as part of a special admissions program from 2004 to 2006, the most recent years available in the NCAA report. The school tightened its standards for “special admits” in both 2004 and 2007, but from 2004 through 2006, Crimson Tide athletes were still more than 43 times more likely to benefit from such exemptions.

At a glance

An Associated Press review has found that at least 77 of the 120 schools in the Football Bowl Subdivision have used special admissions waivers to land athletes and other students with certain talents.

Football players and other athletes at 27 schools were at least 10 times more likely to benefit from such programs than students in the general population:

• Arizona, California, Oregon, Oregon State, UCLA and Washington (Pac-10)

• Baylor, Kansas, Missouri and Oklahoma (Big 12)

• Alabama and Georgia (SEC)

• Clemson, Georgia Tech and Maryland (ACC)

• Indiana (Big 10)

• Rutgers and South Florida (Big East)

• Alabama-Birmingham, Central Florida, East Carolina, Houston, Marshall and Memphis (Conference USA)

• Colorado State and Utah (Mountain West)

• Western Michigan (Mid-American Conference)

NOTE: At Arizona, Oregon, Missouri, Georgia Tech and Houston, only football players exceeded the 10-times threshold. At Baylor, Clemson and Western Michigan, athletes overall exceeded the threshold but football players did not. Oregon State and UCLA did not provide percentages for football.

Ten schools did not provide the information requested by the AP under state public records laws: Akron, Army, Florida International, Louisiana-Monroe, Louisiana Tech, San Diego State, South Carolina, Southern Mississippi, Troy and Wyoming.

Alabama coach Nick Saban offered no apologies.

“Some people have ability and they have work ethic and really never get an opportunity,” he said. “I am really pleased and happy with the job that we do and how we manage our students here, and the responsibility and accountability they have toward academics and the success that they’ve had in academics.”

The NCAA defines special admissions programs as those designed for students who don’t meet “standard or normal entrance requirements.” The NCAA says such exceptions are fine as long as schools offer the same opportunities to everyone from dancers, French horn players and underrepresented minorities as they do to fleet-footed wide receivers and 300-pound offensive linemen.

Texas was one of seven schools that reported no use of special admissions, instead describing “holistic” standards that consider each applicant individually rather than relying on minimum test scores and grade-point averages.

But the school also acknowledged in its NCAA report that athletic recruits overall are less prepared. At Texas, the average SAT score for a freshman football player from 2003 to 2005 was 945 — or 320 points lower than the typical first-year student’s score on the entrance exam.

School officials did not make coach Mack Brown or athletic director DeLoss Dodds available to comment.

In all, 77 of the 92 Football Bowl Subdivision schools that provided information to the AP reported using special admissions waivers to land athletes and other students with particular talents. The AP spent three months obtaining and reviewing the reports through state public records laws.

Ten schools did not respond to the AP’s request and 18 other schools, including Notre Dame, Pittsburgh and Southern California, declined to release their reports. The reports do not identify specific students who benefited from admissions waivers, but they are identified by sport in many cases.

The NCAA sets minimum eligibility standards to compete once a student is in college, but leaves admissions decisions to individual schools and does not compare “special admits” across schools.

Kevin Lennon, NCAA vice president for academic and membership affairs, noted that NCAA schools face penalties, including losing scholarships, if athletes’ graduation rates are too low or if they fail to show adequate progress toward a degree.

“While it’s an institution’s decision on who they bring in, we’re most interested in what they do once they get there,” he said. “And if they’re not successful, there are consequences.”

At California, one of the country’s most selective public universities, Golden Bear football players were 43 times more likely to gain special admissions than non-athletes from 2002-04.

“It doesn’t matter to us if that student is a junior Olympian in taekwondo or the best oboe player in the United States or someone who can really run fast and jump high,” said Walter Robinson, admissions director at Cal. “We still look at that student with the same consideration: can that student be successful at Berkeley if admitted?”

While schools can tout the high graduation rates of athletes, they are not required to track the academic performance of special admits — and few do.

The AP review also found wide variance in how schools compile admissions data for NCAA review.

The NCAA asks schools to provide the annual percentages of special admits for all freshmen and all freshmen student-athletes on scholarship as well as a breakdown by individual sports.

But some schools only supply raw numbers, not percentages. Other schools, such as Florida, say they don’t track special admissions outside athletics.

And several schools report no special admissions but describe in great detail remedial efforts and other programs that adhere to the NCAA’s definition of special admissions.

Gerald Gurney, incoming president of the National Association of Academic Advisers for Athletics, favors a return by the NCAA to the minimum test score requirement abandoned several years ago. He said the NCAA’s “virtually open admissions standards” threaten academic integrity.

“Special admissions, in and of itself, isn’t something to be ashamed of. It does add value to a university,” said Gurney, senior associate athletic director for academics and student life at Oklahoma. “However, when you have students who need such a great deal of remediation, it jeopardizes the very essence of the university.”

Six schools besides Texas reported no use of special admissions on campus: Air Force, Connecticut, Kansas State, Purdue, Tennessee and Virginia.

The AP review also identified eight schools where athletes were no more likely than other students to get a break with special admissions: Arizona State, Arkansas State, Boise State, Iowa, Kent State, Mississippi State, New Mexico and West Virginia.

At South Carolina, All-American linebacker Eric Norwood recently graduated early with a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice.

Norwood was twice denied admission to South Carolina before being accepted as a special admit. The school softened special admission standards in 2007 after coach Steve Spurrier threatened to quit when two recruits who met NCAA eligibility requirements were turned down.

“When I got here I applied myself,” Norwood said. “I had great support from the academic staff, great support from the football staff. And my teammates, they held me accountable.”

South Carolina athletic director Eric Hyman dismissed critics who call special admissions simply a way to land athletes.

“It’s also a way to get better artists, better musicians,” he said. “It’s not all athletes. If you graduate, if your people are successful, there’s going to be more flexibility. And that’s what we’ve done.”


anon1958 4 years, 3 months ago

LOL this is news?

People dont care, as long as the fans get their sacred sports fix no amount of hypocrisy or mistreatment of players will elicit any real changes.

Sports are the real opiate of the masses, not religion.


bad_dog 4 years, 3 months ago

He's watching the Sun Bowl with Invictus, BC.


Boston_Corbett 4 years, 3 months ago

Where is Barry Penders, because he and Jacob123 use an awful lot of the same expressions?


BlackVelvet 4 years, 3 months ago

Jacob123 is right. whether africanamerican or "other-american", the truth is the truth. If you're gifted enough althetically, from high school on, you get a free pass.


Pywacket 4 years, 3 months ago

Deb E~ In my case, you are preaching to the choir! But it will take more than the two of us... You're absolutely right--if people would spend more time doing things themselves (reading, taking their kids fishing, walking the dog, playing board games with friends, etc., etc., etc.--the choices are endless) and less time paying for and attending spectacles in which grown men are paid obscene salaries (in the pros, and somewhat less so in college) to knock each other down or chase a ball around, maybe society' focus would gradually adopt more meaningful values.

I'm not anti-sport. I'm just disgusted at the awful lack of balance we have and how so many fawn over athletes while academic achievers are ignored and not appreciated. We need better balance. Sports have a valid place in our lives--they just should not predominate.


Richard Wade 4 years, 3 months ago

Once again the mass media gets its jollies from less than complete reporting. The topic is valid and I'm sure what "research" was done was accurate. Everyone can take a side on this age old practice. What isn't answered is how colleges who claim not to use "special admissions practices" (such as K-State) have the same or worse students on their teams. Does it really matter whether you bring someone in on special admissions or if you have no admissions standard that would otherwise keep them out?


commuter 4 years, 3 months ago

Wait a minute where is the racist police now???? Jacob123 stated More like “Admissions exemptions help afro-americans who can jump high and run fast.”

Where is the racist police????


Jacob123 4 years, 3 months ago

This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.


Bailey Perkins 4 years, 3 months ago

And this comes as a exactly?

read: Unpaid Professionals - goes into full detail on the exceptions athletes commonly receive as well as the guidelines enforced by the NCAA.


cowboy 4 years, 3 months ago

I would suspect that when measured against their non athletic peers they are doing quite well. I don't know what the current numbers are but a 33% first year dropout rate is pretty common.


kujayhawk 4 years, 3 months ago

...and kids that have parents that donate to the school also get special treatment. Including schools such as Harvard.


lionheart72661 4 years, 3 months ago

debengstrom (Deb Engstrom) says…

Not trying to get too analytical here, but the problem starts long before the college admissions process begins. If people would just stop buying tickets to games and watching them on TV…… Enough said! Great idea with one setback "BLACKOUT" Oh yeah they have ways of getting there money and not giving back to academics


Deb Engstrom 4 years, 3 months ago

Not trying to get too analytical here, but the problem starts long before the college admissions process begins. If people would just stop buying tickets to games and watching them on TV...... Enough said!


SnakeFist 4 years, 3 months ago

I agree, this isn't news - there are expressed exemptions in Kansas' admissions standards for atheletes.

More importantly, the notion that a football or basketball player can practice and fly around the country playing games all week long and somehow do well in their classes is a joke. In the money-making sports (both of them), there isn't much "student" in "student-athlete".


consumer1 4 years, 3 months ago

WHne I went to KU in in the early Eighties, I drove or went with several foot ball players over to a house in east Lawrence to pick up their completed homework assignments.


JackRipper 4 years, 3 months ago

pywacket along with the partying students here to watch sports one has to wonder when classes are being cut to save money if in fact athletics not only takes donations away from academics when donors decide if a better seat is worth more than a feeling of doing the right thing and a serious drain on available teaching resources and dumbing down that goes along with parents and athletic department who whine that their student didn't get the grade needed when they don't deserve it. of course as a country there is no doubt this will come back to haunt us.


Pywacket 4 years, 3 months ago

Yawn. News? I'd have told you this for free back in the early 80s when I worked at KU admissions. It was disgusting the way we had to cater to illiterate athletes who were walked through the process by Coach, while 4.0 National Honor Society students' apps were rubberstamped and acknowledged with form letters.

We literally had to help many of the athletes fill out their applications, as they couldn't figure it out (and didn't think they needed to fill one out, so they were doing this on the first day of enrollment). They were the ones being cheated the most, of course. How many of them were ever going to go on to make a decent living in their sport?


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