NCAA moves forward with raised GPA requirements

The NCAA is moving forward with their plan to increase grade point average requirements for students who plan to play at Division I schools. This year’s ncoming high school freshmen must have a minimum 2.3 grade point average – up from a 2.0 – to be eligible. They also must complete 10 of their 16 required core courses prior to their senior year.

The issue was first addressed by any media earlier this year, in this space.

The changes are drastic to some:

INDIANAPOLIS — One is speaking plain English; the other feels lost in a bureaucratic town of Babel.

To one, it is so obvious.

To the other, inscrutable.

On one side sits a group of well-intentioned people in Indianapolis, folks who make rules and standards not to be exclusionary but to encourage academic success.

On the other side sit kids in classrooms — some in high school, fretting about being allowed to play in college, and some in college, fretting about being able to play the next semester.

And in between is a chasm wider than a 7-footer’s wingspan.

How high school athletes become eligible to play Division I sports and how they stay eligible in college is not exactly in lockstep with how the NCAA would like to see either of those two tasks accomplished.

And so the NCAA makes new rules and increased standards and the students and coaches question their fairness……..

“The real shift is to academic preparation instead of just getting eligible,” said Kevin Lennon, NCAA vice president of academic and membership affairs. “This is a philosophical difference than what’s out there. There’s this attitude now that I’ll just do all these things late in my career just to get over the eligibility mark. Well, you’re still not prepared. This is a focus that says you have to be prepared.”

Absolutely no one will argue that logic. Life would be a lot rosier if student-athletes arrived on campus actually ready for college.

Except for these simple questions: Will these rules effect that change? Can you legislate academic preparedness? Or will these rules merely pull out the college rug from a large percentage of athletes?

The numbers would say the latter. According to the NCAA’s research, 43.1 percent of men’s basketball players, 35.2 percent of football players and 15.3 percent of all student-athletes who enrolled as freshmen in 2009-10 to play Division I sports would not have met the 2016 standards.

“We do want a higher GPA, but I do think you ought to go back and take a look at what you’ve really done and compare it against some of the statistics,” SEC commissioner Mike Slive told’s Ivan Maisel. “Because we think [the NCAA] may have overreached in doing that.

“I think we’re in the right arena, I don’t know if we’ve got the right seat.”…….

The NCAA is developing its own national outreach strategy and will send staff to high-profile camps to get the word out. It is also experimenting with loosening restrictions on phone calls and text messages with recruits and will look into allowing coaches to communicate with athletes as early as eighth grade.

“That’s a big question,” Lennon said. “Should we liberalize the rules to allow coaches and institutions to have earlier access to people in the spirit of getting information out? To say, ‘I’m not interested in you coming to my campus but I am interested in you being prepared to go to any campus.’ If that meant a letter to an eighth grader, saying, ‘study,’ are we ready as a community to allow that? Going to call that into question this year.

The next few years should be interesting.