Prep Sports Stars May Soon Know College Graduation Statistics
WASHINGTON (AP) _ High school sports stars being recruited by college coaches may soon be signing a piece of paper showing they know the percentage of athletes who graduate from the school before they sign a scholarship.
Under strong pressure from Sen. Bill Bradley, the head of the National Collegiate Athletic Association promised to back a federal law requiring such disclosure unless the NCAA acts on its own next January.
″If we don’t pass meaningful legislation, I will personally lobby for this bill,″ NCAA Executive Director Dick Schultz told Bradley.
Similarly, Ithaca College President James Whalen, testifying on behalf of the American Council on Education, pleaded with a Senate committee to delay passing a law until college administrators have more time to implement a disclosure plan of their own.
If the school chiefs fail to act, Whalen promised to join Schultz in backing legislation.
However, Bradley, a New Jersey Democrat and Rhodes Scholar who starred in basketball at Princeton University and for the New York Knicks before taking up politics, said he viewed such assertions of good intention as ″too little, too late″ and said he would not wait for the NCAA.
Bradley told reporters he hopes to win passage of the legislation before the NCAA meets in January.
Legislation would be better, he said, because there are nearly 500 U.S. colleges that are not members of the NCAA. He also said having the ″consumer disclosure″ requirement contained in an act of Congress would temper the temptation for college coaches to cheat in pursuit of a better won-loss record.
Bradley said he was ″astounded″ there was any opposition to the bill at all because ″I really thought I was introducing something that was apple pie and motherhood.″
Among those testifying in favor of the Bradley bill Monday were Oscar Robertson, a former NBA player and member of the National Basketball Hall of Fame; Villanova University basketball coach Rollie Massimino; Bob Hurley, coach of the top-ranked St. Anthony’s High School basketball team in Jersey City, N.J.; Richard Lapchick, director of Northeastern University’s center for the study of sport in society and Dr. Patricia Lucas, principal of Southeast High School in Bradenton, Fla., testifying on behalf of the National Association of Secondary School Principals.
Schultz said the 48 percent graduate rate for college athletes at NCAA member institutions is actually a fraction of a point better than the rate for student bodies as a whole.
Schultz, who has headed the NCAA for two years, also argued that rules put into place over the past five years to strenghten academic achievement by athletes have not had time to show up in statistics.
The NCAA collects graduation data from its member institutions and issues it in an annual report. However, the report is not broken down by individual college.
The Bradley bill would require that the individual figures be reported publicly to the U.S. Department of Education, broken down by sport, and that each institution also disclose its own rates to prospective athletic recruits and that the figures be printed on any scholarship papers signed by the student.
Moreover, the legislation would require the student to acknowledge in writing that he or she has discussed the graduation statistics with a high school guidance counselor or principal.
Lapchick said it was particularly important that disclosure be by sport, rather than confined to an overall rate for all the school athletes, because the worst problems are in the big revenue sports football and basketball.
″It doesn’t do an inner city kid much good to know how white male soccer players are doing or which female field hockey players are graduating,″ he said. ″