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NCAA raises minimum high-school GPA for incoming freshmen athletes

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Beginning in 2016, multiple changes to NCAA scholarship requirements will go into effect. Arguably the most prominent change deals with the minimum high-school grade-point average to be eligible to compete collegiately as a freshman.

As it currently stands, incoming freshmen must have at least a 2.0 GPA in core academic classes in high school in order to play in NCAA-sanctioned contests when they arrive on campus. Now, as a part of the changes that were originally approved in 2012, the bare minimum will rise to 2.3 in core academic classes.

The move could potentially hinder some student athletes from competing at the collegiate level in their first year.

According to an article published on the website Stack, the NCAA estimates that 35.2 percent of student athletes that suited up for football programs in the 2009-10 season would not have been eligible had the standards been in place then.

However, if an incoming student athlete fails to meet the soon-to-be minted standard of a 2.3 GPA but does obtain the old 2.0 GPA in core classes, he or she would be able to receive a scholarship and only participate in practice — not games.

The website also states that a prospective student athlete must pass 16 core classes, 10 of which must be completed before his or her senior year of high school.

Miechelle Willis, Ohio State’s deputy director of athletics, said the standards are positive.

“I never thought of it (the rule) as being fair or unfair,” Willis said. “Anytime you can elevate the initial eligibility standard, I think we all benefit from that.”

Chris McLain, a coach and recruiting coordinator for the OSU women’s soccer team, echoed Willis’ support for the new rule.

“The kids above a 2.3 (GPA) are generally more prepared,” McLain said. “It’s great that you’re a good athlete and you get in a top program in the country, but if you’re not able to handle the classes, it’s a lose-lose for everyone.”

Along with meeting the GPA requirement, the NCAA will soon require prospective student athletes to match their ACT or SAT score with their core GPA according to a sliding scale.

“For example, an SAT score of 1,000 requires a 2.5 high school core-course GPA for competition and a 2.0 high school core-course GPA for aid and practice,” a press release from the NCAA stated.

The NCAA has long stressed that it prides itself on more than just athletic competition. Willis said the new rule strengthens the association’s mantra.  

“It also shows the importance of having some commitment to the academic side at the high-school level,” Willis said.

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