NCAA Settles With Justice Department

University Testing

The NCAA has signed a consent decree with the U.S. Department of Justice committing the organization to change its academic requirements for student-athletes with learning disabilities. These students are frequently funneled into the NCAA waiver process when they fail to meet test score, core course or grade-point average requirements for full eligibility. In the waiver process, the NCAA argued, their academic records were given more individualized attention. However, the Justice Department found that students falling short of the SAT or ACT cutoff were routinely denied waivers while students who failed to obtain the necessary grades or course credit were far more likely to be granted full or partial eligibility. The decree stipulates that there will be no minimum qualifying test score necessary for receiving a full or partial waiver, and that the initial eligibility waivers subcommittee must review the overall academic record and cannot use test scores alone as a bar to receiving a waiver.

In its initial letter of complaint to the NCAA, the Justice Department stated: "...[T]here is a consensus that using a standardized test score as the sole criterion for determining the ability of students with learning disabilities to succeed academically in college tends to screen out such students because of their disabilities. Even the testing agencies do not agree with the decision to use standardized test scores as a necessary, but not sufficient, condition for eligibility."