I applaud the NCAA Division I Management Council's recommended rule changes for initial and continuing eligibility of student athletes ["NCAA May Alter Academic Standards," Sports, Oct. 23]. The initial eligibility proposal, including the elimination of the cutoff score for standardized tests, is a better predictor of the academic success of incoming students. In addition, recent NCAA research demonstrates that the use of a cutoff score has a disparate, negative effect on African American students. The new rules for continuing eligibility more closely align student athletes' progress toward a degree with that of the rest of the student body.
The NCAA Division I Board of Directors, comprising 16 presidents of NCAA institutions, should adopt the proposals at its Oct. 31 meeting and energetically proceed with other elements of its reform agenda, namely, the development of a system that rewards teams that have a demonstrated commitment to the academic progress of student athletes and penalizes those that do not through sanctions, such as ineligibility for postseason play. The reform agenda should also address the demands placed on student athletes, particularly "voluntary" workouts, with an eye toward giving them back their time to be simply students.
The members of the board deserve the enthusiastic support of their fellow presidents. In supporting the reform proposals, presidents of NCAA institutions will signal that they are ready and able to effectively govern intercollegiate athletics.
WILLIAM E. KIRWAN
University System of Maryland
The writer was chairman of the NCAA Division I Board of Directors until June of this year.