High school athletes who want to accept a Division I scholarship and play a sport in college may have to start hitting the books harder if they are going to meet more stringent academic standards recently adopted by the NCAA.
The new initial eligibility requirements, adopted last month by the NCAA Division I Board of Directors, apply to the class of 2015 and beyond. To obtain athletic eligibility out of high school, students will need a minimum GPA of 2.3. The current minimum is 2.0.
Students also may need to score higher on the SAT. Currently, students with a core GPA of 2.5 need to score at least 820 on the SAT (combined math and critical reading sections) to be eligible. Under the new plan, students with a 2.5 core GPA would need to score at least a 1,000.
The changes come at a time when Education Department officials have acknowledged that just 25% of students who graduated from city high schools this year were qualified for college-level classes. The city’s college enrollment rate stands at 46% of graduates, the Daily News reported last month.
Francis Lewis HS in Queens, among the city’s most academically successful large high schools, graduated 88% of its students in June, but only 52% of those graduates had scored well enough on their Regents exams to be considered college-ready.
Some say the NCAA eligibility changes will have a dramatic impact on local athletes, particularly since it will widen the gap between what’s required of them to graduate from high school and what they’ll need to do in order to be NCAA-eligible.
To maintain athletic eligibility, students who attend New York City public schools need pass only four credit-bearing subjects and physical education in the marking period closest to Dec. 1 or April 15, and at least two of the four subjects passed must be “major” subjects (English, math, social studies, foreign language or science).
A student who barely meets those requirements would easily earn a high school diploma, but that student would have little hope of playing in college.
“The NCAA is setting the bar higher,” said South Shore girls basketball coach Anwar Gladden. “At the same time, this is a chance for you to get a free education, so you need to raise your standards as well.”
Boys & Girls HS principal Bernard Gassaway, who raised his own school’s standards over the summer, says he’d like to see the PSAL follow the NCAA’s lead.“If they’re courageous, it will happen,” Gassaway said. “It’s something they will receive a tremendous amount of pushback (on) from certain entities. But to me it just makes sense.”