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3 Mississippi Schools Angry Over NCAA Eligibility Vote

Associated Press

Officials with Mississippi’s three Southwestern Athletic Conference schools are reacting angrily to members of the other predominantly black Division I conference who voted for Proposition 42.

Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference members Florida A&M;, Howard University and Maryland-Eastern Shore voted last week for the measure, which is designed to toughen academic standards for incoming freshmen. The predominantly black Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference also voted for Proposition 42.

“As a black man, looking at some of the black kids you have out there, I don’t see how you could jeopardize their chances like that,” Jackson State athletic director Howard Davis said. “These test scores are not a good predictor of what a kid’s capabilities are. How well a student does in his core curriculum would be a more accurate gauge.”

If Proposition 42 goes into effect in 1990, it would prohibit prospective freshmen who do not meet the NCAA’s academic standards from receiving financial aid from schools.

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Proposition 42 is an amendment to Proposition 48, which for the last three years has set minimum academic standards for incoming freshmen. Both rely on scores from standardized entrance tests. The tests have been criticized as being biased against minorities.

Under Proposition 42, incoming freshmen would have to have a C average and a combined score of at least 700 on the Scholastic Aptitude Test or a 15 on the American College Test. Under Proposition 48, an incoming freshman can meet one of the two requirements and be eligible as a partial qualifier.

‘No Longer ... a Chance’

“What Proposition 42 does with partial qualifiers no longer gives a recruit a chance to see if he or she can do college work,” Davis said. “That’s why (Southwestern Athletic Conference) decided to vote against it. We want to give a kid a chance, because we know that traditionally our kids score low on tests.”

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Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference Commissioner Ken Free said the conference vote was aimed at making a statement, particularly to Division I schools.

“I’m inclined to do something that makes most of them suffer,” Free said. “They’re not caring about any kid except the kid who can get them on television and keep them in the top 20 or 30.”

Florida A&M; athletic director Walter Reed said his school followed the lead of other Florida universities and the state Board of Regents.

Southwestern Athletic Conference Commissioner James Frank, the only black president in NCAA history, said he believes the measure will be reversed.

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