More on the NCAA
NCAA Will Fight Test Score Ruling
Wednesday, March 10, 1999
By Doug Tucker
Sixteen years after Penn State football coach
Joe Paterno told the NCAA, "We have raped a generation of black
kids," a judge outlawed the solution Paterno championed, saying
it was unfair.
Scrambling to deal with the latest twist in one
of the most enduring controversies in college sports, the NCAA
prepared to hurry into court today and ask for a stay of a decision
by U.S. District Judge Ronald Buckwalter.
Buckwalter, ruling in favor of four black athletes,
on Monday stopped the NCAA from using minimum test scores in freshman
eligibility requirements. If the court does not issue a stay,
chaos could result from 302 Division I schools setting their own
standards. The controversy could even extend to the NCAA men's
and women's basketball tournaments which tip off this week.
Many of the 64 teams in each tournament have
athletes who are sitting out their freshman years because they
failed to reach the requirements. As long as Buckwalter's ruling
remains the law of the land, those players could play in the tournament
without fear of penalty.
Elsa Cole, the NCAA's general counsel, said the
NCAA would appeal "the entire ruling," while at the same time
preparing new requirements that would meet the court's requirements
and go into effect on an emergency basis.
"We are encouraged by the court's acknowledgment
that the initial eligibility standards ... serve a legitimate
educational goal," said Charles Wethington, president at Kentucky
and head of the NCAA's executive committee.
"In addition, the judge has not precluded use
of the SAT or ACT as a part of an initial eligibility rule. The
challenge for the NCAA remains as it has always been: to develop
standards to meet that goal."
Cole said Tuesday she expects a response on a
request for a stay "within a day or two."
The rule, known as Proposition 16, required athletes
to have a minimum score of 820 on the Scholastic Assessment Test
regardless of their high school grades. The ruling did not rule
out some use of the tests, which many educators have long said
are racially and culturally discriminatory.
Its forerunner, Proposition 48, resulted from
a tumultuous NCAA convention in 1983 when a group of reform-minded
school presidents began pushing for toughened academic requirements.
Paterno urged delegates to adopt the rule, including test scores,
to stop schools from recruiting athletes they know are not prepared
to do college work.
Without Proposition 16, the 302 Division I schools
would be on their own in determining which freshmen would be academically
eligible to play sports. Some administrators and officials worried
that could create chaos.
"It means that there is no standard to guide
the schools," Cole said. "Each school will have to decide itself
whether a student can play the first year."
Buckwalter was hailed as courageous by Temple
basketball coach John Chaney.
The test score requirement, Chaney said, was
"a denial of opportunity and access for youngsters and targeted
80 to 90 percent black, Hispanic, poor and disadvantaged youngsters."
If upheld, the ruling might restore a lost year
of eligibility to athletes like Temple senior guard Rasheed Brokenborough,
who sat out his freshman year due to the SAT cutoff and ran up
$15,000 in debt because he could not qualify for a scholarship
that year, Chaney said.
"Who wouldn't like to get another year back?"
said Brokenborough, who said that although he is graduating, he
would use the additional year of eligibility to pursue graduate
studies. "I only got to play three years of basketball and I'd
like to come back a fourth year."
One of the Philadelphia plaintiffs, Leatrice
Shaw, is now competing in track for the University of Miami as
a junior, said her foster father, Robert Massie.
Though she practiced with the Miami track team
as a freshman, she wasn't allowed to compete, said Massie, head
track coach at Simon Gratz High School, where Shaw and fellow
plaintiff Tai Kwan Cureton were high school stars.
Cureton was able to compete as a freshman by
going to Wheaton College in Massachusetts, a Division III school
where the SAT minimum did not apply.
"Tai Kwan was president of the Student Government
Association (at Gratz) and president of the senior class, but
he didn't have the SAT scores," Massie said. "Leatrice was a member
of the National Honor Society. She took the test three times.
She came up 10 points short."
Tucker, Doug. "NCAA Will Fight Test Score Ruling." Associated Press. 10 Mar. 1999. Published as: NCAA trying to halt judge's decision - Chaos could result if court doesn't act in The Deseret News 10 Mar 1999 online http://firstname.lastname@example.org?CQ_SESSION_KEY=XMLCDYZDUEYI&CQ_CUR_DOCUMENT=1&CQ_TEXT_MAIN=YES