By Michelle Brutlag Hosick
The Division I Academic Cabinet wants the membership and the two-year college community to evaluate potential changes to transfer regulations for two-year college student-athletes.
The so-called “two-four” transfer regulations (standards for student-athletes at two-year institutions who transfer to four-year institutions) will be designed to identify those prospective student-athletes who are academically prepared to be successful at an NCAA school and foster additional support for student-athletes who are academically underprepared.
With this philosophical underpinning, the cabinet advanced concepts for NCAA-membership and two-year college community input.
The package of concepts, aimed at improving the academic success, skills and preparation of two-four transfers, could include:
Those would be paired with an opportunity for two-year college students to spend more time at the two-year college to focus on academics in order to meet transfer requirements.
Called “a year of academic readiness option,” the concept would allow student-athletes to choose not to play their first year at the two-year institution in order to concentrate on becoming academically prepared for four-year college coursework. Those who opt to take the year of academic readiness would complete three years at the two-year institution, and their five-year clock would not start until the second year at the two-year school (when they are allowed to compete).
The cabinet formulated the concepts after carefully examining research related to two-four transfer student-athletes and consulting with representatives from the two-year college community. The concepts also reflect goals and principles the cabinet developed to enhance student-athlete academic success, align standards with existing initial-eligibility requirements and maintain access to education for all prospective student-athletes.
Data indicate that two-four transfer students enter Division I institutions with lower high school grades and test scores than any other group of student-athletes. In addition, two-year college transfers fail to meet academic standards at higher rates than any other group of student-athletes, in particular, upon exhaustion of athletics eligibility. Finally, although two-four transfer graduation rates have trended upward in the last decade, they still lag behind those of student-athletes who enter a Division I institution directly from high school.
Current rules require two-four transfers to earn at least a 2.0 GPA in transferable credit. The cabinet is interested in increasing that standard to a 2.5 GPA to be eligible to compete immediately upon transfer. Data show that GPA at the two-year institution is the best predictor of first-year success at a four-year school. The data also show that student-athletes who meet the current 2.0 standard are not achieving academic success to the same degree as student-athletes who enter as freshmen. Specifically, predicted ineligibility rates and “0-for-2s” decrease significantly as the two-year college GPA increases. The increase in GPA is being considered for both qualifiers and nonqualifiers.
The cabinet also suggested that nonqualifiers out of high school earn three hours of transferable science credit in addition to the six hours of transferable English and three hours of transferable math already required. Student-athletes who transfer with more core academic course credits, particularly in science and math, perform better at the four-year institution, according to the most recent data.
The group also is interested in extending to all sports the rule adopted in men’s basketball earlier this year limiting two-four transfers to two hours of transferable physical education activity credits (with some exception for physical education majors), which took effect on August 1. Research illustrates that physical education credits correlate negatively with future academic success. In other words, the more physical education credits a student-athlete earns at the two-year institution, the lower the chances are for academic success at a four-year school. Under the cabinet’s concept, both qualifiers and nonqualifiers would be subject to the limit on physical education activity courses.
To help prospective student-athletes meet the potentially higher standard for transferring to NCAA institutions, the cabinet suggested a year of academic readiness to be served in a prospect’s first year at the two-year institution. The concept would allow student-athletes to decide at the beginning of their college career that they will choose to concentrate on academics during the first year and receive aid but not compete in their sport. Because the two-year colleges generally don’t regulate practice to the same level as the NCAA, no practice regulations are suggested at this time.
In return for the commitment to academic preparedness, the five-year clock would not begin until the student-athlete’s second year at the two-year institution. The student-athlete would then have five years to use four seasons of competition.
Once a student-athlete chooses to take the year of academic readiness, if he or she competes or does not meet other requirements, the student-athlete’s clock would revert to initial enrollment at the two-year institution. The cabinet is still working out many of the details of this proposal, including what academic triggers might make a student eligible for the year of academic readiness and whether it would be open to all two-year college student-athletes, regardless of qualifier status.
Cabinet members have already met several times with two-year college representatives, but they know they will need more input and assistance from the two-year college community to fully develop their plan.
“We hope the membership will review these concepts carefully and provide us with thoughtful feedback so we can propose the best legislation possible for the 2011-12 legislative cycle,” said Carolyn Callahan, cabinet chair and faculty athletics representative at the University of Virginia. “We know that the only way to get that done is with input from a variety of sources, most importantly the membership, but also the two-year college community.”
NCAA staff members will take the concepts to various two-year college groups, including the National Junior College Athletic Association and the California Community College Athletic Association.
The cabinet also agreed to keep a variety of other parts of the current rule intact:
In other items at the cabinet meeting, members decided after considering several potential modifications that it will not recommend changes to the initial-eligibility requirements at this time. The cabinet noted that additional time will provide for full consideration of data not yet available, including how the recent increases in core-course and progress-toward-degree requirements affect academic success, before delving further into potential initial-eligibility changes.
The cabinet also recommended an alternative to Proposal No. 2010-58, which would require entering men’s basketball student-athletes identified as needing additional academic assistance in the summer term to enroll in six credit hours and pass three. The cabinet generally supports the idea of a summer academic preparation and acclimatization model but recommends the proposal include successful completion of six hours as opposed to three.