On October 7, 2015, The Drake Group released a position statement that is highly critical of the NCAA’s Division I Academic Metrics.
“Academic integrity in intercollegiate athletics requires a system of checks and balances, transparent academic metrics and safeguards that ensure that learning occurs, not just that athletic eligibility is maintained.” Drake Group President Gerald Gurney, Assistant Professor of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies at the University of Oklahoma said “When the NCAA fails to rely on comparator metrics to the non-athlete student body, no “speed limit” is available to keep athletic programs honest. Unless academic standards for athletes are anchored to institutional academic standards and expectations for all students, athlete academic standards will float with the tide of institutional greed.”
The Drake Group conducted a comprehensive assessment of the strengths and weaknesses of current academic progress standards for participation in college athletics to determine whether these standards effectively measure success in college, and found a significant need for reform.
Key among the findings was that NCAA academic measures are often public relations “smokescreens,” hiding widespread exploitation of academically underprepared athletes and academic fraud by institutions chasing financial success in Division I athletics. The Drake Group identified no easy or single solution to this failure of academic standards. The NCAA must impose multiple reforms simultaneously to hold institutions and coaches accountable for the academic success of recruited athletes.
Specifically, The Drake Group recommends that the NCAA should discontinue its use of the Graduation Success Rate, Academic Progress Rate, and Coaches Academic Success rate calculations because they are fundamentally flawed metrics that (1) do not permit comparison with non-athlete students, (2) do not recognize institutional differences in mission, classroom competitiveness, and student quality or the effect of these factors on underprepared college athletes and (3) invite academic fraud when mismatched recruits are denied appropriate remediation through academic support services. Alternatively, the Drake Group proposes eight academic reforms that would hold NCAA member schools and coaches accountable for recruiting athletes capable of graduating and for remedying academic deficiencies that might otherwise make graduation unlikely.