The NCAA Division I Board of Directors decided today there is "no compelling reason" to change Proposition 16 requirements on freshman eligibility pending a challenge in federal court.
In March, a federal judge said the NCAA bylaw dictating requirements for freshmen at the association's 302 Division I schools had an "unjustified disparate impact on African Americans."
The 3rd Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals in Philadelphia granted the NCAA a stay, and arguments are scheduled to be heard on Sept. 14.
"Our experience has been it does take a while to argue these cases and a decision to be reached," said Graham Spanier, Penn State president and chairman of the Division I board. "Because it is a live issue, we will be prepared to make any adjustments that are required of us."
Spanier also said the board approved a package of recommendations by a basketball study group, including one that would allow men's and women's basketball players who do not meet the Proposition 16 requirements to receive athletic scholarships as freshmen. Those proposals will be sent to the Division I Management Council for review and then back to the board for a final vote. Spanier said no action is likely before next summer.
Under Proposition 16, in order to play, practice and receive an athletic scholarship as a freshman, an athlete must have a high school diploma and a minimum grade-point average in 13 core academic courses, with the required GPA contingent on an indexed, sliding scale with a student's score on either the Scholastic Assessment Test or American College Test. The minimum required scores are 820 on the SAT, or 68 on the ACT. Athletes who do not meet the requirements also lose one season of eligibility, although they can appeal to have it reinstated.
"The question the board has been asking itself is whether there is any compelling reason to change that standard. We concluded there is not," Spanier said. "We think we will prevail on the merits of the case. . . . We believe standardized test scores do provide valuable information."
He said the NCAA will continue to look at data.
"We do expect to fine-tune our legislation that relates to initial eligibility from time to time. . . . Prop. 16 may not be the last word as we hear new data," he said.
The package of recommendations by the basketball study group that the board approved also includes a proposed rule that would require freshman men's and women's basketball players to complete at least 12 hours of study with at least a 2.0 grade-point average by the end of their first semester in college.