AMHERST, MASS. -- A private, experimental college best known for its prowess in team Frisbee is sponsoring a basketball camp aimed at tutoring black high school players in college entrance exams so they can get athletic scholarships at other schools.
"On the surface it seems a start-ling juxtaposition," Hampshire College President Gregory Smith Prince Jr. said recently. "We are not involved in intercollegiate athletics. And we don't believe in Scholastic Aptitude Tests as a crucial way to measure education progress."
"But we also know the rest of the world uses them," he said. "And the way we teach can help students master all different kinds of standardized tests."
Prince said the college's primary goal is to give the young men more educational choices and exposure to an institution that has no intercollegiate athletic program.
"But there are a whole group of individuals involved with slightly different motives," he said.
Dennis Jackson, the college's sports director and also an assistant basketball coach at Central Connecticut University, said as a recruiter for Division I schools he is trying to "combat a national crisis."
Jackson maintained that too many athletes, particularly blacks, are unable to meet the minimum NCAA standards of a C average in their high school classes and a combined score of 700 on the SATs to qualify for an athletic scholarship.
Prince said the college became involved after asking officials of Northern Educational Services, a private nonprofit social agency, how it could assist the financially-pressed Springfield city schools.
"They said this is what they want and we had the personnel available to do it," Prince said.
Hampshire College, tuition $20,000, was founded 20 years ago by four surrounding colleges and universities. Its students follow a program in which traditional classes and grades are optional. In order to graduate, students must complete a series of individual research projects.
"Our youngsters need all the education they can get," said Norma Baker, executive director of NES. "With financial aid being cut back athletic scholarships are the only means for many young black males to enter college."
"If basketball is the hook that gets them there that's fine with me," she said. "But this isn't a basketball camp. They will get a 30-hour course preparing them for the SATs as talks by college admissions and financial aid people."