District Judge Ronald L. Buckwalter ruled on March 8th that the NCAA could not use minimum test scores to determine student-athlete’s eligibility to participate in college athletics. He stated that the NCAA’s own research showed that the practice was unfair to minorities. The suit was initiated by four black student-athletes who were denied eligibility this past year.
However, last week a higher appeals court issued a stay in the case, so that current standards can continue to be used, until such time as new standards can be agreed upon and set in place. This was imperative, as without a stay, non- and partial-qualifiers could have been recruited and eligible to participate. Thus there would be no standards to guide individual schools. Therefore, each school would establish their own eligibility standards for freshmen, which could have led to the possibility of colleges exploiting student-athletes for their athleticism alone. The minimum test score required was an 820 on the SAT, regardless of high school GPA. The average for all students taking the test last year was 1017. The point Judge Buckwalter wanted to come to the forefront, was that this number was a purely arbitrary figure, that had not been studied and had no substantial basis for this requirement.
There are almost as many options for a solution to this problem as opinions. The leading thought at this point is a sliding scale from the minimum SAT score coupled with a high GPA, all the way up to a higher SAT and a lower GPA. NCAA researchers had previously recommended improving the sliding scale that would in theory achieve the NCAA’s goal of raising graduation rates, while allowing more blacks to be academically eligible. This was despite the fact, that an NCAA survey of member schools last year rejected just that proposal by majority.
Clarence Page, a syndicated columnist from the Chicago Tribune stated that “It sounds to me like the judge is giving up too easily. Call me naive, but I still cling to the belief that black youths can compete with others in the academic arena as well as they do in the athletic arena, if they are given enough encouragement. Unfortunately, too many of us give up too easily. We dumb down the standards instead of trying to smarten up the kids. The NCAA rules may not be perfect, but they were trying to raise the academic bar and challenge young athletes to achieve it. Too bad, but I guess that’s what happens when the NCAA tries to let a good education get in the way of playing games.” Joe Paterno from Penn State had this to say, “..remember when you admit one student, you keep out another. Instituting standards doesn’t mean we ignore the problems of the underclass, quite the contrary. This is the only way we’ll keep the pressure on athletically talented youngsters to realize that their education comes first.”
Obviously this is a controversial subject with many changes to come.
The University of Minnesota is reeling as they try to ascertain the depth of problems related to their academic advising department, even as, new allegations are leveled at head basketball coach Clem Haskins, in regards to cash payments to players. Immediately prior to the NCAA basketball tournament, the Saint Paul Pioneer Press printed allegations of improprieties that a former office manager had written at least 50 academic papers for members of the men’s basketball program. The period of time in question was from 1993 to 1998, and it was alleged that hundreds of papers were written for student-athletes in many sports.
Currently, a former men’s basketball player, who played during the 1996-97 and 1997-98 seasons, was quoted as stating that he received cash payments on several occasions that were in the $200 – $300 range. He remembered somewhere in the vicinity of between seven and nine transactions when he alleges Coach Haskins gave him cash while he was playing. At least one of these allegations has been confirmed by his former tutor at Minnesota at the time, who happens to be related to the former office manager in the academic advising office.
Just a reminder that the Coaches Exam will be given on April 20th at 10:00 am with a review session beginning at 9:00 am in the Rubber room in the Moore Athletic Center. There are currently practice tests available in the Compliance office for coaches to start preparing early. If you have any questions please call 644-4272.
From the Interpretation File
Bylaw 188.8.131.52.1 Skill Instruction – Divisions I and II Playing and practice seasons – skill instruction – Division I (Proposal 98-16). Division I institutions should note that with the adoption of Proposal No. 98-16 (effective immediately), in sports other than football, it is permissible for four student-athletes from the same team to participate at any one time with their coaches during the two hours of individual skill-related instruction, that may occur during the permissible eight hours of weekly countable athletically related activities that may occur outside the playing and practice season during the academic year. Please note that the student-athletes must request the instruction, it is not permissible for more than four student-athletes to be involved in such instructional sessions at the same time or at different sites.
1) There is currently a report being forwarded to the Board of Directors to consider Equestrian as an emerging sport for women.
2) Division III basketball teams are allowed to play in a wheelchair basketball game against an established wheelchair team after the end of the season.
Please submit your answers to the Compliance Office by April 30th.
……In the News
The University of Wisconsin was placed on probation for “unauthorized spending of booster club money” according to the NCAA. Apparently, the university was remiss in overseeing the booster funds distributions. Considering the seriousness of the allegations, the penalties were relatively light. However, the university must conduct an internal audit, develop a program on compliance, file annual compliance reports with the NCAA and the athletic director must attend an NCAA compliance seminar. The university escaped harsher penalties due to the fact that they self-reported the violations. All the payments made to athletic department employees would have been deemed legal, if they had received written permission from the university president. Seventy-seven staff members received reimbursements from the booster accounts, including payments to assistant football coaches from the Mendota Gridiron Club. Wisconsin officials had denied payments to these coaches, but four months later, they were paid the identical amounts requested in “appearance fees” by the booster group.
The NCAA agreed to pay $54.5 million to coaches who sued for violation of a federal antitrust law. The “restricted earnings” coaches had their income capped at $12,000 during the year and at $4,000 during the summer. The rule was lifted in 1995, when a U.S. District Court Judge ruled against the NCAA, and upper courts first upheld and later refused to hear the case. The damages awarded were $22 million, but since it was an antitrust case, the damages were tripled to $67 million. Due to inflation, the judge granted a motion to increase it further to $75 million. The NCAA and lawyers for the other party agreed upon the $54.5 million figure. The NCAA had been prepared to appeal, but with attorney’s fees, court costs, etc. the amount could have exceeded $100 million, when it was all said and done. The NCAA will contribute $22 million from cost-savings measures the next three years, while the member schools will be responsible for the remaining $32.5 million. The school by school allocation amounts remain to be figured, and by most estimates, will be a hotly contested issue among schools as to who is responsible for how much.
The Division I Softball recruiting calendar, which gained final approval in January, will become effective on August 1st of this year. The calendar currently calls for 50 evaluations. However, the evaluations are counted differently from other sports, in that if two coaches are evaluating at the same place and time, it counts as two evaluations. Another difference is that high school competitions are exempted from counting against evaluation periods. This was done primarily so that college coaches would continue to support and attend high school games and tournaments. Otherwise the fear was they would just attend tournaments in the summer. The amount of evaluation days will be discussed in the next few years and could change. Currently the period from Thanksgiving day through the 1st of January is a quiet period.
Distribution of the 1999-2000 NCAA Division I Manuals will not arrive until July this year. Should you be in dire need of rules clarifications, please contact the Compliance office and we will resolve matters on a first come basis.
April 1 – April 5………….Contact period
April 5 – 8……………….Dead period
April 9 – 14………………Contact period
April 15 – May 31………….Quiet period
April 1- 30, 1999
March 29 – April 4………….Contact period
April 5 – 8………………..Dead period
April 9 – May 31……………Quiet period
Mr. Bob Minnix
Director for Compliance
Ms. Pennie Parker
Director of Compliance Services
Mr. Brian Battle
Ms. Xiomara Disla
Ms. Bonnie Doyle
Mr. Reggie Gonser
Mr. Jason Hall
Mr. John Lata
The Interpreter is published by John Lata. All comments should be directed to The Interpreter, P.O. Drawer 2195, Tallahassee, FL 32316, phone (850) 644-4390, or by e-mail at: firstname.lastname@example.org