10 Mar 1999 African-American Group Critical of Judge’s Ruling Against Academic Standards
In his ruling on a case brought by two high school seniors deemed ineligible for collegiate track and field competition because their standardized test scores were below the NCAA minimum, Judge Buckwalter said using such scores had an “unjustified” effect on black students. Lawyers for the seniors argued the use of scores for determining athletic eligibility constituted racial discrimination. The NCAA’s academic standards were instituted in 1986 when it was discovered some college players completed their athletic eligibility long before they met graduation requirements and, in some cases, were illiterate. A 1992 revision of the standards required freshmen athletes to have a high school diploma, a minimum standardized test score and a minimum grade-point average in core academic courses.
NCAA General Counsel Elsa Cole told the Washington Post, “Every school is [now] going to be making its own decision on this point, and we are concerned in the long run on what this will do for the student-athlete’s welfare.” Essentially, unscrupulous schools could use the ruling to return college athletics to the days when the well being of the athlete’s academic progress was a distant second priority to their ability on the court or in the field.
“Judge Buckwalter is implicit in setting black people and other minorities back to Jim Crow standards,” said James Coleman, a Project 21 member and former commissioner of the Los Angeles Unified School District’s Black Education Commission. “Separate but equal indeed.”
Project 21 has been a leading voice of the African-American community since 1992. For more information, contact David Almasi at (202) 507-6398 or [email protected], or visit Project 21’s website at http://www.project21.org.