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NCAA approves new academic standards

INDIANAPOLIS -- The NCAA Division I Board of Directors
approved Thursday a package of reform measures designed to place
greater emphasis on GPAs and core high-school courses than test
scores.

The proposals take effect Aug. 1, 2003, and will affect current
high school seniors.

The reform package will increase the number of high school core
courses required by athletes to participate in sports as a freshman
from 13 to 14, would maintain the requirement of a 2.0 grade-point
average in core courses, and would extend the sliding-scale
relationship between standardized test scores and core-course GPA
by eliminating the minimum test score currently in place.

"The evidence is very, very strong that the fairest way to have
initial eligibility standards is a sliding scale of GPA and
standardized test scores," said Robert Hemenway, board chairman
and chancellor of the University of Kansas. "The general testimony
around the room was that the best predictor of success in the
freshman year is the grade the student has in the core courses."

Hemenway said the board would consider increasing the core
course number to 15 or 16 in the future and examine options that
will establish a new graduation success rate.

The new standards also require college students to accrue 24
semester hours before entering their second academic year, while
maintaining a minimum load of 18 hours each academic year and six
hours per term.

Progress toward college graduation also will come at a quicker
pace. Current rules require four-year students to complete 25
percent of their credits each year, but the proposal would increase
that to 40 percent after one year, 60 percent after the second year
and 80 percent after the third year. It would be 33 percent, 50
percent and 67 percent for those in five-year programs -- an
increase from 20 percent per year.

"If you continue to meet it, you will graduate," Hemenway
said. "If you don't fit the model, you won't be participating in
college sports."

The board also voted Thursday:

  • To hold two-year college transfers who were partial qualifiers
    or nonqualifiers to the same percentage degree requirements as
    those who enroll in four-year institutions as freshmen.

  • Reduce the number of credits in remedial, tutorial or
    noncredit course work that may be used to satisfy the minimum
    academic progress requirement from 12 semester hours to six
    semester hours.

    The board will look at additional proposals currently under
    review that will continue the academic reform movement.

    Hemenway said the board was studying proposals that would ensure
    schools would be held more accountable for their failure to
    graduate athletes.

    "We will reward success and penalize institutions that fail to
    meet expectations," he said.