UpDate - Vol. 11, No. 19, Page 5
February 13, 1992
NCAA rule changes to affect eligibility, academic progress

     When the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) held
its 86th annual convention last month in Anaheim, Calif.,
University of Delaware officials joined the majority of delegates
by voting in favor of more stringent academic requirements for
student-athletes.
     The new standards, which go into effect in the summer of 1995,
strengthen the requirements for freshman eligibility and mandate
that student-athletes must make faster progress toward their
degrees than was previously necessary.
     Specifically, delegates to the NCAA convention approved an
increase from 11 to 13 in the number of core courses-including
math, English and the natural sciences-that high school students
must take to be eligible for intercollegiate athletics in their
freshman year.
     In their most controversial vote, Division I delegates passed
Proposition 16, which states that student athletes must have an
overall grade point average (G.P.A.) of 2.0 and a 2.5 G.P.A. in
their core courses to play in an NCAA-sanctioned sport during their
first year of college. The rule replaces Proposition 48, which was
passed in 1984 as the NCAA's first attempt at mandating academic
standards for student athletes.  It had required student athletes
to have a 2.0 G.P.A. in 11 core courses and a 700 score on the
Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) or 17 on the American College
Testing (ACT).
     According to John Burmeister, professor of chemistry and
biochemistry, faculty athletic representative to the NCAA and
chairperson of the University's athletics governing board, this
year's forum on raising academic standards was almost as
controversial as the debate on Proposition 48, which he witnessed
as Delaware's faculty representative.
     Despite the controversy, the higher G.P.A. required by
Proposition 16 was accepted in a 249-72 vote.
     The new regulations will allow some students with G.P.A.s
below 2.5 to play during their freshman year, however.
     A sliding scale approved along with Proposition 16 states that
students with a 2.0 in their core courses are eligible they score
a 900 or better on the SAT, or 21 or better on the ACT examination.
Students with a 2.25 G.P.A. in their core subjects are eligible if
they score 800 on the SAT or 19 on the ACT.
     University Athletic Director Edgar Johnson said Delaware voted
in favor of more core courses and a higher required G.P.A.,
"because research shows that the more academic courses students are
exposed to the greater chance for success they have in college."
Also, Johnson said, "a 2.5 grade point average will hopefully bring
us a more qualified student, who will have a greater chance of
graduating from college."
     Burmeister said the University voted against Proposition 21,
which requires Division I athletes to make certain progress toward
a degree.
     That proposition states that, by the start of their third
year, student athletes must fulfill 25 percent of their degree
requirements and have a G.P.A. equal to 90 percent of the minimum
G.P.A. required for graduation. By the start of the fourth year,
they must complete 50 percent of their degree requirements with a
G.P.A. equal to 95 percent of that needed for graduation. The start
of the fifth year requires 75 percent of their requisites to be
completed with a G.P.A. equal to 95 percent of that needed for
graduation.
     Burmeister said he and other University officials oppose the
rule because it limits student athletes' ability to change majors
late in their academic careers. He pointed out that students not
involved in NCAA sports can take as long as they wish to obtain a
degree.
     Success in the "traditionally more difficult" subjects will
get harder, he said, pushing athletes toward "easier" majors. "Life
in the engineering trenches," he suggested, "which has always been
difficult, will become even more difficult" for student athletes.
                                        - Stephen M. Steenkamer