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July 28, 2004

High School Athletes Can Play Faster By Intentionally Failing

FROM THE NCAA LOOPHOLE DEPARTMENT comes the somewhat bizarre option of purposely failing high school courses as a tactic to improve a student-athlete’s chances of playing sooner in college.

Academically-challenged student-athletes—with substandard high school grades and SAT scores—would traditionally spend two years at community colleges or jucos. However, this would use up two years of their eligibility and delay their participation in 4-year college athletics.

The new technique has been for the at-risk students to intentionally fail a course or withdraw from school. Why? Because according to current NCAA rules, the grades they earn by repeating 12th grade at a prep school will count toward college eligibility.

Go figure.

Serious ethical questions have arisen because, in advising struggling students of all their options, coaches and counselors have found themselves in a position of sometimes advising intentional failures.

Weird.

A case in point described by the Washington Post is Andre Jones, who says he intentionally failed English during his senior year in order to fall short of graduation requirements at his high school. Andre had accepted a football scholarship at Boston College, but he was unlikely to meet the NCAA minimum academic standards.

However, by spending a year at a prep school, Andre could conceivably improve his grades sufficiently enough to compensate for his low SAT score.
If all goes according to plan, Andre goes to Boston College ready to play, and with only a one year delay.

Clever.

Nonetheless, this apparent loophole seems not to be on the NCAA’s radar screen.

More later . . .

(this 258 word excerpt—with attendant commentary—was extracted from a 1605 word article in the Washington post of 7-28-04)