College coaches will no longer be able to give athletic scholarships to freshman who do not meet the academic requirements of Proposition 48, according to a proposal adopted Wednesday by the National Collegiate Athletic Assn.
The new rule eliminates so-called partial qualifiers, prospects who achieve an overall grade-point average of 2.0 but fail to meet the minimum grade-point average in college preparatory courses or do not achieve the minimum required score on standardized entrance exams.
An NCAA spokesman said that about 1,800 athletes in the last 3 years would have been affected by the rule, which will be implemented in the 1990-91 school year.
Ursula Walsh, director of research for the NCAA, said by phone from Mission, Kan., that NCAA schools have given scholarships to about 600 partial qualifiers each year since the implementation of Proposition 48, which established minimum academic standards for freshman eligibility.
Under current legislation, partial qualifiers can be awarded full scholarships but must sit out their freshman year, neither playing nor practicing while losing a year of eligibility.
When the new rule is implemented, they will still have to sit out while losing a year of eligibility, but will also have to pay their own ways.
Chancellor Joe B. Wyatt of Vanderbilt said the rule would send “a clear and unambiguous message” to high school athletes. “And that is, there is no substitute for diligence and study in their chosen field of education.”
Said Fred Jacoby, commissioner of the Southwest Conference: “I think there was a feeling that some students really shouldn’t be in college. By that, I mean those that are not academically qualified.”
The proposal, introduced by the Southeastern Conference, passed by a vote of 163-154 after being rejected Tuesday, 159-151.
It was opposed by black educators, who believe that standardized entrance exams are racially discriminatory.
Athletic Director Al Avant of Chicago State called Proposition 48 a failure.
“It’s just an attempt by the NCAA to look good,” he said.
Representatives of predominantly black schools, however, chose not to speak against the proposal Wednesday on the convention floor.
“There are some battles that are perhaps better left alone for a while,” said E. M. Jones, Grambling State faculty representative. “I think that the partial qualifier ought to have access, as a non-qualifier ought to have access. To deny access to anyone is just simply wrong.
"(But) Sometimes I simply become tired of going forth and trying to fight the battle. And right now I’m trying to regroup or hope that some of the members will get some degree of backbone and decide that the education of the student is most important.
“The conscience of some of these people is going to have to change. They’re going to have to start seeing these (Proposition 48 non-qualifiers) as they would see their own children.”
Athletic Director Charles Theokas of Temple argued that proponents of the measure were more concerned about rivals gaining a competitive edge than they were about the well-being of the athletes who would be affected.
“I’ve seen some very selfish motives,” an emotional Theokas told delegates before Wednesday’s vote was taken. “If this passes, the entire concept of not being punitive with (Proposition 48) is out the window. Now we’re saying, ‘Let’s not even talk to these people.’ ”
Alan Williams, faculty representative at Virginia and chairman of the NCAA infractions committee, made the request to reconsider the proposal.
“The overwhelming group of students seem to be much, much better prepared for college than they used to be because of Proposition 48,” Williams said. “But there seems to be a persistent group of people who do not take academics seriously because they felt they had a way out through the partial-qualifier provision. That’s the group we were looking at.”
Most non-qualifiers will wind up in junior colleges, Jacoby said.
“You’re not really depriving them,” Jacoby said. “You’re just sort of steering them onto a different route for the first 2 years.”