NCAA Proposes Tougher Academic Standards

The NCAA's board of directors is backing a new proposal that would require incoming basketball players to have their academic records assessed by university officials. Those in need of additional class work would have to take at least six credit hours during the summer to become eligible to compete in the fall. Additionally, school officials would have to reassess the academic records of players at the end of each school year and determine whether additional summer classes are needed. Schools that do not offer summer classes would be exempt from the legislation.

Coaches - who have made it clear that they would like more time to work with players during the summer - could then designate an eight-week summer period in which student-athletes enrolled in classes could participate in up to eight hours per week of strength and conditioning training.

Critics, however, contend that the legislation will be too expensive, give the NCAA too much power over the decisions of individual schools and provide coaches more practice time. The proposal now goes to membership schools for comment, with a vote slated for January.

Changes regarding academic performance could be in store for football players, too. A proposal would require players to earn at least nine credit hours during the fall semester (or eight hours at schools with a quarter system) to be eligible the following fall. Players who fail to meet the requirement could be suspended for up to four games the following year.

The NCAA's support of these proposals comes one week after the organization began attaching academic ratings to coaches in basketball, football and four other Division I sports via an online database accessible to recruits, their parents and prospective employers.

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