Instead of basing NCAA eligibility standards on SATs and GPAs, schools should meet academically challenged athletes “where they’re at” by offering a core competency degree. Emphasis could be placed on reading, writing, arithmetic and computer literacy. A core competency degree would be paid for just as if the student were attaining his B.A. or B.S degree.
Obviously, those student-athletes performing well enough academically would continue to pursue B.A. and B.S. degrees, just as they do today. Students who successfully complete a core competency degree (and subsequent SAT requirements) may be granted admission into their university’s B.A. or B.S. programs, but scholarship benefits would end the same as they do today. In other words, the academically challenged athlete who participates in a core competency program might not complete a B.A. or B.S. degree before his scholarship expires, but he would be attaining real skills in an honest fashion as well as moving closer to a B.A. or B.S. degree.
One might say this idea turns academically esteemed universities into remedial institutions, but a core competency degree would help establish fundamental academic honesty while facilitating athletic opportunity.
T. Andrew Dykers, Carrboro