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NCAA responds to CNN report on student-athlete academic success

Earlier this week, CNN produced a segment that inaccurately and incompletely portrayed the academic success of student-athletes. Academic success of student-athletes is a core priority for the NCAA and its member schools. NCAA member schools have established academics standards student-athletes must meet so they can compete in their sport. These are completely separate from the admission standards colleges and universities use to admit and enroll students.

For more than 10 years, the NCAA has gathered comprehensive data that show that student-athletes outperform their general student body peers academically. This is consistent across all sports, including those who compete at a high level in men’s basketball and football.

The NCAA and its member schools embrace the role of providing student-athletes the skills for what comes next in life. As we shared with CNN, the hard facts and cold truth simply do not bear out the scenario portrayed in its reporting.

  • In the group of more than 29,000 student-athletes who entered Division I institutions for the first time in 2012, only 16 were certified as eligible with test scores below 600 (or the ACT equivalent) – which is .05%. Of those, only 2 were in the sports of men’s basketball or football.
  • Only 68 were certified as eligible with scores between 600 and 700 (0.2%).  Of that group, 28 were men’s basketball or football student-athletes.
  • Test scores and GPAs are very highly correlated. This is why it is a very rare event to have a very low test score, but grades high enough to be certified as eligible.  It is only slightly more common to see very low grades paired with a high test score.


The NCAA and its member schools will continue to embrace our role in providing student-athletes the skills they need for life after college. Our unwavering commitment is to give young people opportunities to learn, compete and succeed.