1998 NCAA Convention

University Testing

On the eve of the 1998 NCAA Convention in Atlanta, leading education reformers, including FairTest Board members Dr. Pamela George, Dr. Deborah Meier, Dr. Vito Perrone and Chuck Stone, along with FairTest National Policy Panel members Dr. Asa Hilliard and Jonathan Kozol, joined four recent National Teachers of the Year, the Center for School Change and FairTest in releasing a letter asking the NCAA to stop using arbitrary and discriminatory standardized test score and core course rules to decide which first- year students are eligible to receive athletic aid and compete on varsity teams.


The National Association of State Boards of Education has also strongly criticized NCAA initial eligibility requirements.


FairTest argued that the NCAA's fixed test score requirement is not only a blatant misuse of the tests but also a violation of federal civil rights laws. A race discrimination lawsuit, filed in January 1997, charges the NCAA with violating Title VI of the Civil Rights Act (see Examiner, Spring 1997). The federal judge presiding over that case has ordered the NCAA's Initial Eligibility Clearinghouse (IEC) to turn over to the plaintiffs all data related to the implementation of the initial eligibility rul The NCAA is seeking reconsideration of that ruling.


The education reformers also criticized the NCAA's role in regulating high school academics through its role in certifying "core courses." (Examiner, Fall 1995). "The NCAA's rigid course requirements only serve to undermine high school reform and frustrate well-prepared students," added Joe Nathan, Director of the University of Minnesota's Center for School Change.


At the Convention, both NCAA Divisions I and II approved measures that would allow high school principals rather than the IEC to decide if a course is an acceptable "core course." However, the NCAA has retained the right to overrule the principals' decisions.