Judge Rules NCAA Academic Standards Hurt Athletes
Posted March 8, 1999
RALEIGH — Student-athletes with pin-point jump shots, a diploma and a passing GPA may not have to worry about the NCAA's SAT OR ACT minimum test scores.
A federal judge struck down a list of the NCAA's freshman eligibility requirements Tuesday, saying they unfairly target African American students.
Proposition 16 is a set of academic requirements that include a minimum grade point average, a minimum standardized test score and a high school diploma.
Critics have long claimed that the SAT or ACT portion of "Prop 16" hurts black athletes.
N. C. StateAthletic Director Les Robinson said that the ruling could change the recruiting landscape -- who is recruited and who is not.
"You just go back to athletes in recent years that were not admitted because of low SAT scores, even with a sliding scale," said Robinson. "It will eliminate that."
Pastor Donald Fozard, Sr. runs Mt. Zion Academy, a Christian school in Durham with one of the top high school basketball programs in the country. Mt. Zion recruits athletes whose troubled backgrounds keep them out of other schools.
"I think it levels the playing field for all students and athletes," said Fozard. "We can have a test, but don't let that be the determining factor as to whether or not a young person has a chance to compete academically."
Without SAT minimum requirements, freshmen athletes could suit up with their respective teams without the shadow of the SATs lurking in the corner.
"If he can't carry the load in the class, let the professor of the institution deal with him, but don't set up some fictitious standard that you're going to judge everybody by, judge them by the work in the class," said Fozard.
Tuesday's ruling stems from a case involving two track and field athletes in Philadelphia. They had the grades and the GPA, but failed to achieve the required minimum on the standardized test, under NCAA rules.
The judge used the NCAA's own data that indicated African American and low income student-athletes have been disproportionately impacted by Proposition 16 standards.
Dukecoach Mike Krzyzewski also weighed in on the judge's ruling. In a written statement, he said that he and other coaches have been very concerned about how Proposition 16 would affect kids coming from lower socio-economic backgrounds.
Krzyzewski said the judge's ruling should open new discussions on creating a better and more equitable system of requirements.