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July 15, 2002 - Knight Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics Supports NCAA Academic Eligibility Proposals

MIAMI - The co-chairs of the Knight Foundation Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics have endorsed proposed changes to the NCAA's initial and continuing eligibility standards.

The proposals, noted in a memo to the NCAA Division I presidents, will be discussed at upcoming summer meetings of the NCAA Board of Directors and the Division I Management Council. They are slated for a board vote in the fall.

"The proposals are consistent with the commission's goals and recommendations in that their enactment would give athletes stronger academic experiences more often culminating in graduation," wrote co-chairs William C. Friday and Fr. Theodore M. Hesburgh, former presidents of the universities of North Carolina and Notre Dame, respectively. "We urge you to support these standards."

The proposals under consideration by the NCAA Division I membership include:

  • Increasing the number of required high school core courses from 13 to 14 for initial eligibility.
  • Increasing the percentage of degree requirement from completing 25 percent-50 percent-75 percent of the requirements for a degree entering the third, fourth and fifth years of enrollment to 40 percent-60 percent-80 percent, respectively.
  • Increasing the minimum required grade point average (GPA) for continuing eligibility from 90 percent and 95 percent of that required to graduate entering the third and fourth years of enrollment, respectively, to 90 percent of the GPA required to graduate entering the second year and 100 percent of that GPA entering the third year and beyond

The co-chairs also said that while they welcome the proposals strengthening continuing eligibility standards, they are concerned by the proposal that would drop the minimum test score required for initial eligibility. They suggested that in addition to the proposed increase in the number of required high school core courses, other means to raise initial eligibility standards should be considered.

The co-chairs said they look forward to tracking and supporting the progress of two related efforts. One would lessen time demands on athletes so they are more likely to meet higher academic standards. The other would impose penalties on teams and institutions whose athletes do not make satisfactory progress toward their degrees.

The 28-member Knight Commission issued its latest recommendations on reforming intercollegiate athletics in June 2001 in a 48-page report, "A Call to Action: Reconnecting College Sports and Higher Education." The panel's deliberations in the early 1990s about runaway athletic programs led to reforms placing control of sports programs in the hands of college and university presidents.

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