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Tuesday
May072013

NCAA Continues to Remodel 2016 Academic Standards

Have you ever decided to remodel a room in your home? The process is time consuming. The research with your spouse is endless. What paint color, which fixtures and what type of cabinets will provide the desired results?

The NCAA has essentially been doing the same thing with its initial-eligibility academic standards for Division I. And, as is frequently the case with homeowners, when the work is done, the conceptual ideas behind the selected paint, fixtures and cabinets do not always match the anticipated results.

So, a year and a half into this process, here we go again.  

Timeline:

October 2011 – The NCAA approves sweeping legislative changes for DI initial-eligibility standards for the class of 2015. Included are a higher minimum GPA of 2.30, plus 10 core classes required to be completed prior to senior year with seven of those classes coming from the English, math, and science subsections. In addition, the grades earned in the 10 core classes are “locked in” and may not be retaken during the senior year.

February 2012 – The NCAA announces its new SAT/ACT DI sliding scale. The minimum score increases by 180 points for the SAT, and a range of 14-17 points (sum score) for the ACT. The NCAA also announces a new term – Academic Redshirt. NCAA data reveals that 43% of basketball recruits and 35% of football recruits from the graduating class of 2009-10 would not have met these new academic standards.

April 2012 – Fearing that there is not enough notification time to educate high school coaches, counselors, parents and student-athletes about the higher academic standards, the NCAA delays the new academic requirements by one year. They will now begin with the class of 2016 instead of the class of 2015.

May 2013 – The NCAA Division I Board votes to drop the increased SAT/ACT sliding scale for the class of 2016 and will instead keep the current sliding scale in place. All other higher academic standards (2.30 GPA, 10 core courses prior to senior year, etc.) will remain in effect.

Here is the issue. When you and I decide to do some remodeling, the world isn’t going to know or care if we initially selected the wrong paint and then decided to tweak our new look. The NCAA, on the other hand, is a very large, public entity with more cabinets than Martha Stewart’s mansion. Constant changes to the NCAA’s published standards negatively impact millions of high school athletes, parents, coaches and counselors, who are often confused by the NCAA’s initial-eligibility process.

These changes were not made on a whim. They were discussed, researched, and further discussed by our some of our nation’s most influential and respected university presidents. So, why the most recent reversal on the sliding scale? Why now? The desired results haven’t even had time to play out.

It appears that once again the decision makers (college presidents) and those directly impacted by the changes (college coaches and athletic directors) were not on the same page. The often conflicting goals of higher academic standards vs. athletic opportunity collided, bringing us to this latest round of new paint.

Let’s just hope this latest step in the renovation is the last. For the sake of the millions impacted, it’s time to put down the tools and brushes and let the new color soak in. 

 

Friday
Jan252013

Recruiting Lessons from Lance Armstrong and Manti Te’o

So right now you’re thinking “this oughta be good” or “where’s he going with this?”

Hear me out.

The lies of Lance Armstrong and the bizarre fictional girlfriend of Heisman Trophy runner-up Manti Te’o have captivated the nation’s attention. Debates have raged with both incredible stories. How could Lance continuously lie like that? Why is he coming clean now? How could a young man fall in love with someone he has never met?  How could he not be in on the hoax?  Is he somehow starved for more attention?

From these tangled questions come clear lessons which every young student-athlete can learn from.

Case Study #1 - Lance Armstrong

After years of denials and steadfast rebukes, Lance finally admitted to what many accused him of being - a cheater and a liar.  As a former friend of mine once told me, “liars begin to believe their own lies.”

Without getting into the details of my story, that statement rings very true.  It turned out my former friend knew of this because he was living a lie himself, and it certainly seems Lance would find some truth in that statement as well.

What’s the lesson for student-athletes? A reminder that all lies eventually unravel. Always be honest with yourself and coaches during the recruiting process. Be truthful about your physical abilities, academic record and athletic accolades. If you are 5’10’’, tell the recruiter you are 5’10’’, not 6’1’’ (hoping for a growth spurt).  If you run a 4.90 forty, tell the recruiter you run a 4.90 forty, not a 4.50. And, if you are a “C” student, tell the recruiter you are a “C” student, not a “B” student (hoping you ace your final exams). Eventually, no matter how long it takes (and in Lance’s case it took a while), the truth will come out. And, any recruiting opportunities based on false premises will immediately disappear.

Case Study #2 - Manti Te’o

This story is a sign of the times. A time when keystrokes, tweets, posts and text messages often create a false reality. It’s very easy to create a fake or anonymous identity online, and Manti took the cyber bait hook, line and sinker.

What’s the lesson here? The internet is a powerful tool which helps connect the world, but it’s not a substitute for real human interaction. True relationships can only be formed through face-to-face contact. So, yes, use the internet to initiate contact with college coaches. With plenty of free online college search tools (such as bigfuture), free video hosting sites (such as YouTube and Vimeo) and readily available coach contact information on college websites, it has never been easier for student-athletes to self-promote their skills. But, ultimately, you still need to get in the car and visit the campus and meet the coaches in person. There is no substitute for that tangible experience. Just as viewing pictures of a campus is not the same as walking on it, emails and phone calls aren’t the same as a handshake. Plus, unlike official visits, there are no limitations to how many “unofficial visits” a student-athlete can take or when they can be taken (just avoid a "dead period" if seeking to meet the coach). So, don’t forget to put down the smartphone, back away from the keyboard, and enjoy some authentic human interaction.

Lance Armstrong and Manti Te’o. Two troubling stories, but two valuable lessons.

Tuesday
Sep112012

Academic Armageddon

Well, here we are.  For kids across America, school is in session.  But, it’s actually the counselors, athletic directors and coaches who need to take a course this semester. And, that course would be NCAA Initial-Eligibility 101.

You see, the NCAA has levied massive changes in initial-eligibility standards, which are sure to have a profound impact on the class of 2016 (current high school freshman) and beyond.

How profound?  How about NCAA research showing that 43% of basketball recruits could be ineligible for D1? Or, 35% of football recruits could also be ineligible? Across all sports, 15% of D1 recruits are staring at potential initial-eligibility issues in 2016.

So, instead of constantly reminding us that “there are almost 400,000 NCAA student-athletes and almost all of us are going pro in something other than sports,” maybe a better message from the NCAA would be, “Hey, class of 2016! Want to go D1? Then get your act together academically….NOW!”

Of course, the underlying challenge is, how can kids be held accountable for academic standards that their athletic directors, coaches and counselors are not even aware of?

In just the past two weeks, I have presented seminars to the Chicago Public Schools AD’s, Philadelphia Public Schools AD’s and counselors, and to Arizona AD’s at their state conference.

I asked the attendees at each presentation to tell me, by a show of hands, how many of them feel like they have a good working knowledge of the new 2016 NCAA academic standards.  An estimate of 3% of the hands raised would be generous.

The fact of the matter is, neither the NCAA, nor our little 501(c)3 nonprofit, can get to all of the nation’s 39,000 high schools in person.  But, everyone can find 60 minutes to view one of our free webinars and become better educated on the new NCAA academic standards, plus NAIA academic eligibility and other important recruiting topics.

So, I ask you to be proactive, and not reactive.  Let’s not wait until the problem becomes front page news in the year 2016. Let’s get ahead of this “Academic Armageddon” and not chase it.

You can do your part by forwarding this blog to the high school student-athletes, teammates, parents, coaches and counselors in your life.  Encourage them to view a webinar today and get educated on this impending academic problem. School is in session, and the clock is already ticking.

Thursday
Jun282012

It's Just $5, Right?

The NCAA recently released the 2012-13 version of the Guide for the College-Bound Student-Athlete. It’s chock-full of useful information including recruiting calendars, recruiting rules and core course requirements.  But, one thing is noticeably different from the last year’s version - the NCAA Eligibility Center registration fee will increase in September from $65 to $70.

It’s just five dollars right?  Well, multiply five dollars by 180,000 (roughly the number of student-athletes who register each year with the Eligibility Center) and that equates to an additional $900,000 in revenue for the Eligibility Center.  Some portion of applicants will qualify for fee waivers. But, any way you slice it, it’s a 7.7% revenue increase for the Eligibility Center, which is part of an organization that had 2010-11 revenue of $845 million.

Hmmm.  I can sense the look on your face right now.  The same blank stare I get when speaking to parents, high school students, high school coaches, high school athletic directors and high school counselors around the country.  A stare that translates to, “When is enough, enough?”

I can’t speak for the Eligibility Center on how the revenue is utilized, but I can suggest a radical idea of reform.  After all, if DI football can finally adopt a playoff system, why can’t other areas related to college athletics change as well?

Understand that when a student-athlete registers with the Eligibility Center it often becomes a badge of honor for many parents, providing plenty of fodder for them to gloat over their child’s athletic abilities, be it around the water cooler or in the stands at a high school game.

The truth of the matter is that many high school student-athletes who register with the Eligibility Center are wasting their time and money.  Why? Because, out of the 180,000 student-athletes who register with the Eligibility Center annually, only about 76,000 appear on a college IRL.

What’s the IRL?  It’s the Institutional Request List. Every DI and DII school in the nation is required to submit to the Eligibility Center a list of students they have an interest in recruiting. It’s a list known only by the Eligibility Center and the DI and DII schools, but if a student-athlete is not on it, they are not getting an athletic scholarship.

So, the NCAA has the ability to save families money and better manage parent and student-athlete expectations by providing one simple reform.

What is it?

Require the Eligibility Center to notify a student-athlete when they are placed on an IRL.  Issue them an IRL number, which the student-athlete must then provide when registering with the Eligibility Center.  No number? No registration.

Would this reduce the Eligibility Center’s revenue? Of course.  But, that lost revenue would result from many parents no longer unnecessarily spending $70, which is a positive financial impact for families.

This would also help foster more realistic expectations among parents regarding their child’s chances of getting an athletic scholarship. Not on any school’s IRL? Then it’s probably time to have more serious discussions about academics and other financial aid options.

It would be a win-win for many families that you can’t place a price tag on – worth much more than five dollars.

Thursday
Apr262012

Upon Further Review, NCAA Calls a Timeout

Sometimes a no-huddle offense creates more problems than it’s worth.

This past October, the NCAA essentially rolled out its no-huddle offense by moving swiftly to institute higher initial-eligibility standards for the high school graduating class of 2015. That class was in the midst of their freshman year when the changes were announced.

Upon further review, the NCAA huddled up and realized what many high school administrators have been telling us at no fewer than 10 state conferences we attended this spring - the changes were taking effect too quickly. Most high school administrators felt there simply wasn’t enough lead time to properly communicate the dramatic changes to student-athletes and high school counselors and coaches.

On April 26, the NCAA Division I Board of Directors took heed and called a timeout by delaying implementation of the new standards until the class of 2016.

The NCAA was clear that this is a delay, not a lessening of the new academic requirements.  "There is no thought anywhere of reducing those standards. The commitment to these standards is rock solid," said NCAA President Mark Emmert.

Click here to review the new DI academic requirements which will now take effect with the class of 2016.