New, stricter grade requirements for athletes: Sports Analysis

Legislators have been discussing new standards for student athletes. In the past, student athletes have been required to pass at least two of their courses to maintain eligibility to participate in school-sponsored sports, but there is a movement to change this. There is a proposal to put in place a stronger set of requirements for student athletes. In this new set of rules, student athletes would be required to pass all their classes, and coaches would be required to check student athletes’ grades every four weeks. When the coach checks grades, any player failing one or more classes become ineligible for the next four-week period, and if by the end of the four weeks the grade(s) are brought up, the player is again eligible to play. The proposal will be voted on sometime in early March [by the State Department of Education]. “I’d say the votes are about 50-50 for the proposal,” Ames High Athletic Director Judge Johnston said. The proposal would force all student athletes to be just that, students and athletes, with more incentive to maintain better grades. “I don’t think it will have a huge impact on Ames High; maybe a dozen or so kids would really be affected,” Johnston said. “The main issue is how it will affect those students. A lot of them just show up for the athletics programs, and they could fall through the cracks.” The proposal has brought about worries and opinions from coaches at Ames High. “I’m torn,” basketball coach and teacher Joel Sullivan said. “As a teacher, I think that the intent behind it is good, that it’s trying to make the students responsible and understand that school comes first. However, there’s a lot of logistics I don’t think that they’ve worked out yet that I think could be detrimental to student athletes if they don’t figure out how to handle those problems,” he added. One of the problems Sullivan pointed out was in the time period for grade checking and the length of player ineligibility. “I think that eligibility needs to be based on percentages and not just week by week,” he said. “Four weeks is almost half of the football season, whereas it’s only about one third of the basketball season, and that should be taken into consideration.” Students have their opinions on the eligibility proposal as well. “Student athletes should be responsible for passing all of their classes, but everyone has their ups and downs. Sometimes in the beginning of quarters or semesters, when there isn’t much to base your grade on, it might not be a passing grade if you didn’t do well on your first test or first few homework assignments…so then what? Basically the athlete could be screwed at that point, because when you become ineligible it’s hard to come back and fit in with your team right away and you may even lose a starting spot or your position,” said junior Amy Hamilton, who has played on the varsity volleyball, basketball, and soccer teams. She added “And I guess sometimes people have bad days and may not do too well on a test which can bring your grade down a lot, so becoming ineligible would probably make that situation even harder and make it tougher to get back up.”