By Dr. Gerald Gurney
Originally published April 10, 2011
For nearly 50 years, the NCAA has debated its minimum academic requirements for first-year students who hope to compete in big-time college sports. In its various attempts to ensure an acceptable level of precollegiate learning and skill competencies, the NCAA has vacillated between lowering and raising entrance standards, seemingly unable to determine the correct balance. In its most recent set of reforms, in 2003, it established new standards for initial eligibility. Responding to charges of the disparate impact on minorities of standardized-exam requirements, the new rules afforded minority athletes greater access to higher education by creating a sliding scale for grade-point averages and standardized-test scores, while abandoning a minimum requirement of a composite 17 on the ACT or 820 on the SAT.