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Division II’s leadership began its thorough review of academic standards Thursday during a joint meeting of the Management and Presidents Council.
Over the next two years, the Academic Requirements Committee will lead a comprehensive assessment of initial-eligibility, two-year transfer and progress-toward-degree requirements. The review is timely because of the availability of Academic Performance Census, which provides sufficient data on the academic performance of Division II student-athletes. The review also will ensure that academic requirements align with the Division II philosophy and prepare student-athletes to attain a college degree.
While the APC data will shape any decisions, the hardest work may be in determining what sort of changes Division II wants to make.
Eckerd Athletics Director Bob Fortosis, the Management Council representative to the ARC, noted that large gains to the Division II graduation pool gained through more restrictive standards would yield high minority ineligibility rates. The ARC is striving to avoid any such disparate effects, and Thursday’s session seemed to indicate that the Management and Presidents Councils share that view.
However, a president who has been closely involved in the process said gains can be made without harming access.
“As long as we use a data-driven process, we can balance those two,” said Ernest McNealey, president of Stillman College and Presidents Council representative to the ARC.
Division II initial eligibility currently is based on a conjunctive scale, which requires student-athletes to meet two standards – a 2.0 GPA and an 820 SAT. The alternate possibilities include a sliding scale (a combination of test score and GPA), a sliding scale with a minimum GPA or a minimum GPA only.
Though the GPA-only requirement sounds radical, the APC data show that a GPA requirement of 2.2 is not the non-starter it might appear to be. “Again, if it’s a data-driven process,” McNealey said, “it is the only one we’ve examined so far where you actually get an entire percentage point improvement in graduation rates and only marginal negatives with regard to eligibility. It’s probably going to be a hard sell, though, as it works its way through.”
Then again, almost any substantial change in this area will be a hard sell, which accounts for the protracted analysis and vetting. The ARC will develop concepts and get reactions this year from all affected Division II constituents – student-athletes, faculty, coaches, ADs, commissioners and others. Educational sessions at the 2013 Convention will focus on the topic, as will a special Chancellors and Presidents Summit, also scheduled for the 2013 Convention.
Any legislation coming from the examination probably would be considered in 2014.