«This study examined whether the academic success, specifically the grade-point average, NCAA progress-towards-degree, and freshman to sophomore ...»
In 1964 the NCAA first attempted to govern initial eligibility when it approved the ‘1.6’ rule. The ‘1.6’ rule stated that both incoming and continuing student-athletes needed to have a predicted grade-point average of 1.6 on a 4.0 scale. The ‘1.6 rule’ was the NCAA’s first real effort to establish minimum academic expectations for first- year student-athletes and to utilize a comple x formula that considered grade-point average, class rank, and standardized test scores (Crowley, 2006). This rule transferred a great deal of authority from the home institution to the NCAA since institutions that did not abide by this new multidimensional standard would be ineligible for post-season competition (Crowley, 2006).
In 1973 the ‘1.6’ rule was replaced by the ‘2.0’ rule. The ‘1.6 rule’ was abolished primarily because the formula’s use of standardized test scores that were viewed as disadvantaging to minority and economically challenged students (ACT & ETS, 1984;
Crowley, 2006; Falla, 1981). By implementing the ‘2.0 rule,’ institutions moved away from using a predictive formula for predicting academic success and returned to the simpler approach of considering the high school grade-point average of student-athletes.
Proponents of the ‘2.0 rule’ felt that institutions would all be operating on a level playing field with regard to recruiting and determining initial eligibility (Crowley, 2006).
Many thought that replacing the ‘1.6’ rule with the toothless ‘2.0 rule’ was a major setback (Byers, 1995; Falla, 1981; Crowley, 2006). Walter Byers, former NCAA Executive Director (1995) stated, Losing the ‘1.6 rule’ was one of the most painful experiences in the 22 years that I served as executive director. It was a terrible day for college athletics... For a decade later the weak requirement would provide recruiters an open door to solicit whomever they wanted. (p. 5) By 1983 the effects of the lax ‘2.0 rule,’ public outcry over academic scandals in major college programs, and an increase in the commercialization of college sports, created a real concern regarding the general academic integrity of student-athletes (Crowley, 2006; Pickle, 2008; Shulman & Bowen, 2001; Sperber, 2000). Specifically academic scandals at the University of Georgia, University of Kentucky, University of Nevada-Las Vegas, Creighton University, Southern Methodist University, New Mexico State, and Oklahoma State (Bailey & Littlejohn, 1991; Dowling, 2007;
Eitzen, 2006, French, 2004; Pickle, 2008; Svare, 2004) motivated the NCAA to explore academic reform and to develop new academic entrance standards for student-athletes (ACT & ETS, 1984).
In 1983 Proposition 48 was passed by the NCAA to supplement the much maligned ‘2.0 rule’ (ACT & ETS, 1984). This proposal was developed by the American Council of Education, an academic group strongly influenced by university presidents (Crowley, 2006; Sperber, 2000). Freshman would not be able to participate in athletics unless they earned a 2.0 or better grade-point average in 11 high school core courses (English - 3 years, Math - 2 years, Science - 2 years, Social Science - 2 years, additional academic electives - 2 years) and score a 700 on the SAT or a 15 composite on the ACT (Shulman & Bowen, 2001). The primary criticism of Proposition 48 was that studentathletes were being held to a higher standard than the general student body in determining the minimum SAT and ACT test scores for initial freshman eligibility (Ervin, Saunders, & Gillis, 1984). The use of fixed minimum test scores was viewed as discriminatory, due to the fact that proportionally more African-American student-athletes would be disqualified from participating in their freshman year than would other student-athletes (Crowley, 2006; Kelo, 2005; Sellers, 1992; Thelin, 1994).
In 1991 the Knight Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics, a national task force appointed by the United States Senate, was formed to look into allegations of academic abuses in collegiate athletics. The Commission stressed the importance of admitting student-athletes who could undertake meaningful courses of study and graduate in the same proportion as their non-athlete peers. The result of the Knight Commission’s work was Proposition 16, a reform of Proposition 48. Proposition 16 developed a minimum college grade-point average while also instituting a sliding scale for initial freshman eligibility which considered both high school core grade-point average and standardized test scores (Crowley, 2006; Knight & Knight, 1991). At this time the NCAA also adopted year-by-year progress towards degree completion requirements. Twenty-five percent of the degree must be completed by the beginning of the third year, 50% by the beginning of the fourth year, and 75% completed by the beginning of the fifth year (NCAA, 2007a).
The Knight Commission (1991) stated that athletics continue to “... threaten to overwhelm the universities in whose name they were established” (p. 11).
William Atchley, former president of Clemson University, described the leadership of the NCAA in the 1980s as being dominated by athletic directors and coaches. He stated (as cited in Sperber, 2000), At one time coaches and athletic directors openly ran the NCAA, now they have to pretend that their presidents are involved in the association’s decision making.
But if you look at who is making the real decisions, from the Executive Director on down, you will find men and women who come out of college coaching and athletic director positions. They shape the thinking of the NCAA and probably always will shape it for them, it’s the present and future of the coaching and athletic director professions, the jobs of their close friends at stake. (p. 33) The leadership of the NCAA underwent a major change in 2003 when Myles Brand, the first former university president to lead the NCAA, was inaugurated (Crowley, 2006). Under Brand’s direction the sliding scale was altered to allow lower standardized test scores when coupled with higher high school core grade-point averages (NCAA, 2007a). Continuing eligibility standards were also increased with student-athletes now required to complete 40% of their degree by the third year, 60% by the beginning of the fourth year, and 80% completed by the beginning of the fifth year (NCAA, 2007a).
Brand’s NCAA also raised the stakes by establishing the Academic Progress Rate (APR), a real-time measure of academic progress. The APR, calculated each fall, is a real-time measurement of eligibility, retention, and graduation (NCAA 2007a, Meyer, 2005).
According to Meyer (2005), Those included in the cohort are enrolled student-athletes receiving institutional aid based on athletics ability in the required semester/term. Student-athletes may earn two points per semester for a total of four. Points are assigned if a studentathlete has earned eligibility (one point) and returns after the fall (one point);
points are assigned in the spring using the same criteria. Students who are eligible to return to their institutions thus can earn four points per year. At the start of the academic year, each Division I APR will be calculated by adding up all points earned by student-athletes and divided by the total possible points that could have been earned. The APR will be totaled for four years before historical penalties are implemented although contemporaneous penalties will take effect during the 2005-2006 academic year. (p. 2) These changes along with the potential sanctions and negative publicity have increased the attention paid to student-athlete support services (Kennedy, 2007).
Faculty groups are also concerned about student-athletes (Dowling, 2007; COIA, 2007; Eitzen, 2006; Gerdy, 2006; Sack & Staurowsky, 1998; Sperber, 2000; Svare, 2004). The Coalition on Intercollegiate Athletics (COIA) is an alliance of 55 NCAA Division I faculty senates whose mission is to provide a national faculty voice on
intercollegiate sports issues (COIA, 2007). In their position paper Framing the Future:
Reforming College Athletics, COIA (2007) states, Concerted efforts to enhance student-athletes integration into campus life would likely arrest the increasing isolation of student-athletes from the rest of the campus. Such integration must be a responsibility shared across all stakeholder groups, including faculty, instead of leaving it solely to the athletic department.
Strengthening academic oversight of athletics learning centers would enhance the quality and integrity of these facilities. Improvements in these areas would enable student-athletes to participate more fully in academic and social aspects of campus life. (p. 8) In their recommendations to the NCAA Presidential Taskforce, COIA (2007) made two specific recommendations regarding the integration of student-athletes into
2.3.1 Life skills and personal development programs for student-athletes should have as a goal the integration of the student-athlete into the rest of the student population. These programs should help student-athletes develop an appropriate balance between their academic time requirements and their paramount need for academic and social integration. Administrators, faculty, and athletic departments should mitigate the time demand on student-athletes to allow them to pursue the full range of educational experiences open to other students.
2.4.1 Academic advising and academic support for student-athletes should be structured to give student athletes as valuable and meaningful an academic experience as possible and not just to maintain their academic eligibility.
2.4.2 The academic advising facility for student-athletes should be integrated into and report through the academic advising structure and not the athletic department.
2.4.3 The campus academic advising structure or the office of the chief academic officer should have oversight of and regularly review the academic advising of student-athletes.
Student-athletes are commonly recognized as a special population (Carodine et al., 2001; Hyatt, 2003; Kennedy, 2007; Sedlacek & Adams-Gaston, 1992). They follow regimented schedules, lead stressful lives, and often face negative stereotyping and discrimination by the faculty and other students (Sedlacek & Adams-Gaston, 1992).
Carodine et al. (2001) found that student-athlete’s overall academic performance was negatively affected by a combination of factors including time commitment to athletics, physical stress from athletic participation, and a high profile on campus.
Academically Under-prepared Many student-athletes are under-prepared for the academic challenges of college and struggle to compete with their non-athlete peers (Adler & Adler, 1991; Pascarella, Bohr, Nora, & Terenzini, 1995; Sedlacek & Adams-Gaston, 1992; Sellers, 1992;
Shulman & Bowen, 2001). In a study conducted at Clemson University, Maloney and McCormick (1993) found that student-athletes had SAT scores that averaged 150 points below that of the general student body. At Notre Dame in 1996, the median SAT score for all freshman was 1310, while freshman football players’ median SAT score was 894 (Zimbalist, 1999). The tendency to admit student-athletes who are below normal admission standards has been documented at service academies. According to Eitzen (2006) the 2001 freshman class at the Air Force Academy included 277 cadets who were below normal academy admission standards. Of these 277 cadets, 165 were studentathletes. Eitzen (2006) also states that “the athletes who get into the academy with academic waivers are less likely to graduate, less likely to become pilots, less likely to move into critical high-tech jobs, and less likely to rise to the service’s top echelons” (p.