By Brian Hendrickson
The Division II membership will have a chance to shape the future academic path of the division and make a statement about its commitment to the academic success of its student-athletes at the 2014 NCAA Convention when it considers a package of five “Path to Graduation” proposals that could alter initial eligibility and transfer requirements and set a new standard for academic progress.
The initial eligibility element of that suite of proposals, if passed, would change the admission standards for high school graduates for the first time in 31 years. The current initial eligibility rules sets fixed minimums for GPA and standardized test scores, and anyone failing to meet those minimums becomes either a partial or non-qualifier. The proposed changes would allow for some variability by implementing sliding scales that would allow a lower standardized test score to be offset by a higher GPA.
Proposal No. 2014-15 would require high school seniors to hold a minimum core course GPA of 2.2 to be a qualifier, an increase from 2.0. A sliding scale would be paired with core GPA for qualifying test scores to determine academic eligibility. This proposal has a delayed effective date of Aug. 1, 2018, for student-athletes initially enrolling in a collegiate institution on or after Aug. 1, 2018.
Another proposal (No. 2014-19) would change the eligibility requirements for student-athletes transferring from two-year colleges and, among other things, grant immediate eligibility for those possessing an associate of arts degree from an accredited institution if they were enrolled full-time for a minimum of two semesters or three quarters. The effective date of Proposal No. 2014-19 is Aug. 1, 2016, for student-athletes initially enrolling in a Division II institution on or after Aug. 1, 2016.
But the proposals that are expected to generate the most discussion relate to the “Progress Toward Degree” element of the package, which was developed to ensure that student-athletes are making steady progress toward their degrees. The package is broken up into three proposals intended to let members engage in a philosophical discussion about which academic standards are best for the division:
- The first proposal (No. 2014-16) would require student-athletes to maintain a 2.0 GPA while earning nine semester hours or eight quarter hours on a term-by-term basis. Student-athletes would need to earn 18 semester hours or 24 quarter hours during the regular academic year to remain eligible. Credits earned during the summer would not count toward the requirement.
- The second proposal (No. 2014-17) would require student-athletes to achieve a minimum of 27 semester hours or 40 quarter hours each of their first two years, or 54 semester or 80 quarter hours in the first two years combined. Credit hours earned during the summer would count toward year-by-year eligibility. Following the designation of a degree in year three, 24 semester hours or 36 quarter hours would need to be maintained each year.
- The third proposal (No. 2014-18) would only be voted on if members do not pass Proposal No. 2014-17. It requires 24 semester hours or 36 quarter hours each year, or 48 semester hours or 72 quarter hours in years one and two combined. Credit hours earned over the summer would count.
All three proposals would have an Aug. 1, 2016, effective date for all certifications occurring Fall 2016 and thereafter.