New NCAA rule a good start

A minimum graduation rate is a start in reclaiming the “student” in student-athlete.

The NCAA has set a new academic standard for University athletics teams. The NCAA will require teams to graduate at least half of their players in six years or fewer. If the standard is not met, the NCAA threatens structured penalties such as reducing funding for scholarships and even the possibility of teams losing NCAA eligibility.

Only half of the players have to graduate, right? Easy. But the University’s student-athlete graduation rate is only at 58 percent, and the University overall only carries a whopping 52 percent through to graduation. These rates fall below all other Big Ten schools. The men’s basketball team didn’t graduate anyone this year, and risks future penalities if it continues this trend.

The most obvious reason for student-athletes slipping away from graduation requirements is the rigorous schedule that most balance between their sport and their class work. Student-athletes who are in season are constantly facing this challenge, running from practice to class, to scheduled study times with tutors and to meetings with counselors. These exceptionally busy students are also traveling on game days and missing classes.

This new policy will hopefully strengthen the graduation rate by not just pushing student-athletes to do well in academics, but by requiring them to do well enough to graduate from the University. It will strengthen programs that are currently helping student-athletes perform well in school and will create a much more structured and monitored education.

Finally, the NCAA has set a standard for graduation rates among student-athletes. If this new policy is followed and the penalties are actually enforced, it will help student-athletes who do not plan on playing professionally in the future, as well as those who have the option of doing so. It is important for the University to carry academic standards through the entire population of students, not ignoring student-athletes. A little push followed by the possibility of consequence might be all University teams need to create a desire and goal of reaching graduation day.