NCAA examines eligibility

by Judith Phillips | 2/7/02 6:00am

Low graduation rates of recruited athletes at a variety of Division I schools have prompted the National Collegiate Athletic Association to re-evaluate its academic regulations.

The Ivy League has also undergone discussions of its own regarding the time commitments demanded of athletes.

College President James Wright, a member of the 18-person NCAA Division I committee, said that the goal of these potential changes would be "to affirm the priority of academics for student athletes, to enable them to graduate and do well and to evaluate the costs of athletics and the growing commercialism of athletic events."

The current standard, called the Initial Eligibility Index, mandates that a student with a 2.0 GPA have a combined SAT score of 1010, and that a student with a 3.0 GPA have a combined SAT score of 820.

Potential college freshmen also need to have completed at least 13 academic courses, including four years of English, and two years of math at least at the level of Algebra 1.

Potential changes, some of which would occur by the end of this calendar year, include the increased flexibility of the Eligibility Index.

Dartmouth Director of Athletics Dick Jaeger noted that requirements for College recruits are "much more stringent, only insofar as the pace for the recruits is set by the overall incoming class."

"The Ivy League is so far above all those minimums, that the changes just won't be relevant," he said.

The Ivy League is considering changes of its own, however.

President Wright said that the Ivy League is holding a "companion set of discussions concerning the length of competitive seasons and out of season requirements."

He noted that the NCAA is also looking at season length and out-of-season requirements because athletes at "some institutions with low grad rates need to reevaluate their time."

He added that any changes "at Dartmouth would be part of an Ivy League thing. We have to work together as a league."

Wright recently spoke with the various Dartmouth team captains regarding out of season obligations.

"I think they are here first and foremost to be students. I think its critical that we reaffirm that," Wright said. "Being a student athlete is a complicated thing today. They have to be incredibly disciplined, work hard and budget their time. They do it quite well."

Wright noted that despite the emphasis on academics and the cost of athletic programs, Dartmouth has "more teams than big state schools. We offer a broader range of opportunities for students to compete."

Yet despite the differences in size and emphasis, Wright noted that the "the Ivy League is going to want to stay in parallel with the NCAA."

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