Academics

NCPA Executive Director Ramogi Huma Moderates US Senator Chris Murphy's Panel on Academic Reform 7/25/2019 

NCPA Executive Director Ramogi Huma Moderates US Senator Chris Murphy's Panel on Academic Reform    - Washington, D.C. 7/25/2019

The NCAA and its colleges have defaulted on the promise to provide college athletes a realistic chance to earn a quality education and complete their degree.  To explain its inaction to act on one of the biggest academic fraud scandals in college sports history, the NCAA stated that it has no duty to ensure a quality education.  Despite the rhetoric, NCAA sports prioritizes players’ athletic contributions and revenue over players’ academics success and future. 

These misplaced priorities pace tremendous obstacles to college athletes’ efforts to earn a quality education and complete their degree.  Players must schedule classes around an athletic schedule with overwhelming time demands.  NCAA surveys found that college athletes spend anywhere from 30-44hrs/week in their sport. 

The NCAA also devised its misleading Graduation Success Rate (GSR) whereby scores of athletes that apparently dropout of college are counted as graduates as long as they were academically eligible when they stopped going to school.  These athletes are labeled “left eligible”.   NCAA statistics indicate that over 12,500 of athletes who “left eligible” never transferred to another college but were not counted against the GSR.

Every college that allows an athlete to compete in intercollegiate athletics should provide a realistic opportunity for players to obtain a quality education, complete their degree in the major of their choice, and allow players to pursue non-athletic opportunities during their college career.  To accomplish this, the NCPA is advocating for important policy changes including but not limited to those below. 

Key Solutions

  • Create a degree completion fund allowing colleges the option to set aside funds for athletes to receive upon degree completion or, for those who do not complete their degree, to use the funds towards the cost of attendance and receive any remainder.  Conferences could set their own limit on such funds so long as they do not violate antitrust laws by setting limits in conjunction with other conferences or their athletic association.  This will help ensure athletics revenue supports colleges’ tax-exempt educational mission.
  • Extend the scholarship for each player that has exhausted eligibility without completing an undergraduate degree.
  • Include classes to improve underprepared athletes’ academic skills.  University of North Carolina academic fraud whistleblower and literacy educator Mary Willingham estimates that illiterate athletes could be ready to take college level coursework within 18 months if provided the proper support.
  • Ensure all athlete academic advising and tutoring that is paid for by a college is provided by an independent 3rd party.
  • Reduce academic unit requirements during the season.
  • Permanently injured players receive an equivalent scholarship until the earlier of undergraduate degree completion or a total of 5 years when combined with any previous athletic scholarship.
  • Prohibit athletic personnel interference of players’ academic major selection.
  • Disclose to recruits, current athletes, and the public any majors with prerequisite and/or required courses that will prevent or delay degree completion due to mandatory athletic activities.
  • Disclose to recruits, current athletes, and the public the percentage of athletes enrolled in each academic major on each team.
  • Similar to high school baseball players, allow underclassmen from any sport that enter a professional sport’s draft and be drafted to choose to stay in college instead, continue their intercollegiate athletics career, and make progress toward degree completion.
  • Require college personnel to report suspected violations and grant whistleblower protections for institution personnel and athletes reporting a violation.

Challenges

  • NCAA 2015 “GOALS” Study:
    • Division I college athletes spend a median of 32hrs per week in their sport including 40 hrs per week for baseball players and 42 hrs per week for football players during the season, respectively.
    • Over 1/3/ of NCAA athletes say athletic time demands do not allow them to take desired classes. 
    • Approximately 35%-41% of DI and DII athletes report lacking adequate time to keep up with classes during the season
    • 30% of DI FBS football and DI men’s basketball players would have chosen a different major if they were not in college sports
    • 66% of all DI and DII athletes, including 75% or more of football, baseball, and track athletes, report spending as much time on their sport during the off-season as they do during the season.
    • Between 66%-76% of DI and DII athletes would prefer to spend more time on academics.
    • D-I baseball and men and women’s basketball players miss more than 2 classes per week because of athletic time demands during the season.
    • Approximately 40-45% of DI and DII athletes report wanting to spend more time working at a job.
    • 33% of DI athletes and 22% of DII athletes want to participate in travel abroad programs but cannot because of college athletics.
  • Recent NCAA rule change eliminates college athletes’ mandatory 1 day off per week, allowing colleges to require players to spend 24 days in a row in their sport. 
  • USA Today study: 83% of Division I colleges had at least one team in which at least 1/3 of the player were “clustered” into the same major.
  • Some coaches ban players from team activities only to claim that the player voluntarily quit in order to kick the athlete off the team and reallocate his/her scholarship.

Conflicting Graduation Rate Calculation Methods

  • The Adjusted Graduation Gap (AGG) is the most informative and transparent graduation rate metric.  It is the calculation of any gap between graduation rates of college athletes (full-time students per NCAA rules) and full-time regular college students.  It provides an “apples to apples’ comparison between athletes and regular college students that can help accurately measure the degree to which institutional, athletic association, and/or public policy affects college athletes’ academic performance.
  • The NCAA-invented Graduation Success Rates (GSR) automatically counts a player, who is in good academic standing and transfers from a college, as a graduate regardless of whether or not the player ever complete his or her degree.  Also, it does not allow for graduation rate comparisons between college athletes and regular full-time students because GSRs do not exist for regular students.  Colleges do not calculate this NCAA graduation rate method for regular students.
  • The Federal Graduation Rate (FGR) measures the rate at which an institution graduates college athletes and regular students that initially enroll at the institution.  However, it compares college athletes (full-time students) with a combination of both full-time and part-time regular students.  This is problematic because part-time students’ graduation rates are typically lower than that of full-time students and prevents an “apples to apples” comparison with college athletes.  In addition, the FGR automatically counts college transfers against an institution’s graduation rates regardless of whether or not a transfer graduates at another institution.