Rejects Change in Test Score Use
several months of hinting at possible changes to its controversial
minimum test score requirements, the National Collegiate Athletic
Association's (NCAA) Academic/Eligibility/ Compliance Cabinet
voted instead to reject any modification of the freshman eligibility
rule known as Proposition 16.
this year, NCAA Executive Director Cedric Dempsey had expressed
support for ending the association's widely criticized use of
test score cutoffs to determine eligibility for athletic competition
and scholarships. In presentations to such organizations as the
Black Coaches Association, which has long opposed the fixed score
cutoffs, Demspey and other NCAA officials cited new studies that
highlighted once again the particularly harsh impact of the test
score requirements on minority and low-income student-athletes.
These studies also showed that student-athletes who fell short
of the test score cutoffs did just as well in their college classes
as those who scored above the cutoffs.
September meeting, the NCAA's Academic Eligibility Cabinet, after
surveying association members, rejected three proposals to modify
Prop. 16, including one put forward by the NCAA's Minority Opportunities
and Interests Committee. Instead the Cabinet voted to retain current
test score requirements that award full athletic eligibility and
aid only to first-year student-athletes who score 820 or higher
on the SAT (or 68 and above as a composite score on the ACT),
regardless of their performance in their high school classes.
In August, the Minority Opportunities and Interests Committee
had voted to endorse a full sliding scale that would have eliminated
the minimum test score requirements and based eligibility decisions
for all student-athletes on a combination of test scores and high
school grade-point average. This approach had been recommended
by past NCAA committees as well as by NCAA researchers.
powerful evidence about Proposition 16's disparate impact on minority
and low-income student-athletes, and even in the face of criticisms
by testmakers that Prop. 16 represents an improper use of college
admissions tests, the NCAA has again dismissed even modest reform
1999, however, the NCAA will have to defend its position in federal
court when the class-action, race discrimination lawsuit, Cureton
v. NCAA, goes to trial -- if the case makes it that far. In
October, plaintiffs' attorneys filed a motion asking for summary
judgement. In their filing, Trial Lawyers for Public Justice cited
the NCAA's survey and accompanying memorandum to member schools,
which acknowledged that Prop. 16 has had a disparate impact on
minority student-athletes and that the proposed alternatives would
have lessened the harm done to minority student-athletes without
signficantly reducing projected Division I graduation rates.
NCAA rejects change in testscore use. Fair Test Examiner. Fall 1998.