NCAA Urged to Revamp Academic Metrics

October 8, 2015

The Drake Group, an organization pushing for more emphasis on academics in college sports, urged the National Collegiate Athletic Association on Wednesday to discontinue using the metrics it uses to determine academic eligibility.

In a position statement, the group argued that the NCAA's academic measures -- which include a Graduation Success Rate and an Academic Progress Rate -- are "public relations smokescreens hiding widespread exploitation of academically underprepared athletes and academic fraud." The calculations behind the metrics are flawed, the Drake Group said, because they do not permit comparison with nonathlete students, do not recognize institutional differences in mission and invite academic fraud when "mismatched recruits are denied appropriate remediation through academic support services."

"Academic integrity in intercollegiate athletics requires a system of checks and balances, transparent academic metrics and safeguards that ensure that learning occurs, not just that athletic eligibility is maintained," Gerald Gurney, president of the Drake Group, said in a statement. "When the NCAA fails to rely on comparator metrics to the nonathlete student body, no 'speed limit' is available to keep athletic programs honest. Unless academic standards for athletes are anchored to institutional academic standards and expectations for all students, athlete academic standards will float with the tide of institutional greed."

While many critics of big-time college sports have long questioned the reliability of the NCAA's academic requirements, the Drake Group wrote its recent analysis following a "comprehensive assessment of the strengths and weaknesses" of the measurements. The group recommends that the NCAA abandon its current metrics, use the federal graduation rate, require mandatory five-year scholarships and adopt a "commonly accepted measurement of good academic standard," including requiring athletes to attain a minimum cumulative grade point average of 2.0.

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