Different Standards for Athletes?
As the stereotype goes in the big Hollywood blockbusters and the smaller Netflix specials, athletes are portrayed as less-than-stellar academics aptitude. Unfortunately, as most stereotypes, that depiction exists for a reason.
In multiple studies and data compiled over the past handful of decades at top-tier universities, it has been revealed that athletes consistently score lower on the SAT and ACT than their non-athlete peers. Not only that, but these student-athletes seem to have special interference on their part in order for them to be admitted to the university they attend.
Athletes’ Lagging Scores
Georgia Tech University, UNC, Texas A&M University, UCLA, the University of Hawaii, and even the University of Florida have been exposed as some of the worst offenders of their athlete’s performance on the SAT.
Georgia Tech’s athletes scored the highest but because of their strict standards for the rest of the student body, the athletes still scored 315 points lower than the non-athletes. Meanwhile, the University of Florida was unveiled as the absolute worst offender with their athletes only scoring 890 points which was 346 points lower than the rest of its student body.
Georgia’s Athletic Academic Performance
Throughout the 2009-2014 academic years, another Atlanta Journal-Constitution investigation conducted further revealed a consistency in Georgia Tech as well as exposed the University of Georgia, Georgia State University, and Georgia Southern University as offenders in their athletes scoring lower on the SAT and ACT than the non-athletes of their student body. In some instances (Georgia Tech), the athletes scored 420 points lower than the non-athletes with the athletes achieving an average of 1025 whereas the non-athletes earned an average of 1445.
All of these Georgia universities also utilized “special admissions reasoning” in order to bypass the minimum standards for these athletes to attend their institution. Georgia State utilized the highest with 87, with UGA following at 63, Georgia Southern at 59, and Georgia Tech at 31. A cumulative of 240 special admissions was utilized for these athletes.
A 3-year NCAA investigation that oversaw nearly 20 years of academic classes and students revealed that the UNC administration aided student-athletes not only with lowering the bar for admissions but also by utilizing special admissions and enrolling them into fake classes into fake classes.
As mentioned above, UNC was one of the schools highlighted as having athletes perform academically less than non-athletes. UNC must have realized this as a crucial issue and made decisions to aid their athletes. In the end, though, the NCAA ruled the violations were out of its jurisdiction as non-athletes were enrolled in the fake classes as only 47.6% of the 3,100 students in question in these fake classes were athletes.
Today’s Athletic Academic Performance
The trend that athletes score lower than their non-athlete peers continues to even 2021, according to usmaData and the James G. Martin Center for Academic Renewal.
UsmaData reveals that even at the esteemed United States Military Academy West Point, athletes routinely score nearly 60 points less than non-athletes on the SAT, in all categories investigated. UsmaData did not reveal if USMA utilized special admissions but did imply that it seems admissions overlooks stronger performers of potential Cadets in favor of athletes.
For UNC, it has been further revealed that the university has utilized quite a number of Minimum Admission Requirements and Minimum Course Requirement waivers for athletes. Anywhere from 1.4. to 3.6 percent of incoming Freshmen from 2018 to 2021 received one of these waivers at the institution.
The gap between athletes’ and non-athletes academic performance has been highlighted for over two decades. It also appears to be growing based upon the data. However, the impact of this remains to be seen but will impact future athletes as the NCAA has already released a sliding scale based upon performance.