University Athletics Advisory Committee

1998-99 Activity Report

26 May 1999

The University Athletics Advisory Committee (AAC) consists of the Athletics Department director and selected staff, students, student-athletes, faculty, and USC administrators involved in student affairs (e.g., the Registrar and Director of Student Affairs). This diverse group focuses on issues affecting the intercollegiate athletic programs, especially academic performance and eligibility requirements.

The AAC met monthly during the academic year from September through April. The AAC will resume its regular meetings in September. The following categories represent the most important issues the AAC discussed this past year.

NCAA Eligibility Requirements

The NCAA has proposed revising its eligibility standards in several ways. Many of these revision follow from the Cureton vs. NCAA case (March 8, 1999), in which the plaintiff successfully challenged the use of standardized tests for determining eligibility. If the ruling stands, it could mean that the emphasis on standardized test scores will be reduced considerably. The AAC is keeping a close watch on the repercussions of this case, since it could mean a significant change in how eligibility is determined.

Student-Athlete Academic Performance

The overall academic picture for student-athletes is quite encouraging. The 1999 annual Scholar Athlete Banquet hosted by the Athletics Department and the AAC (April 6, 1999) honored students who earned at least a 3.0 cumulative GPA in one or more semesters during 1998. This year, a record number of athletes (277) reached the 3.0 mark. Each student also identified the instructor most responsible for their academic success, and those instructors were honored at the banquet as Faculty All-Stars.

As for the most recent academic information (Spring 1999):

                    One source of continuing concern is the academic performance of the men’s basketball team. While grades are not uniformly low for all players, there are some poor academic performers. The AAC has suggested that incentives be offered to the coaching staff to improve grades (just as high graduation rates are recognized and rewarded). The committee also urged earlier intervention by tutors and faculty when grade problems are anticipated. For example, more frequent progress reports from instructors and more rapid turnaround of this information might prevent problems from developing.                                     Since the grade point averages of sports with fewer participants are disproportionately affected by one or two anomalous performers, the AAC and the Registrar’s office have expanded and modified how grades are reported and released to the public. The grade statistics now include grade point averages and graduation rates for every sport, the numbers of participants in each sport whose grades are counted, as well as overall cumulative grade point averages and graduation rates for all sports. When viewing this comprehensive picture, overall academic performance of our student-athletes is impressive. As for graduation rates, we find:

Finally, in the AAC’s annual meeting with President Palms (February 10, 1999), the committee discussed how academic achievements of athletes could be publicized better throughout the campus and community. Regarding eligibility standards, President Palms agreed with the AAC that eligibility requirements should be kept high to keep pace with USC’s increased standards for admissions.

 

Respectfully Submitted by

 

Roy Schwartzman, Ph.D.

Chair, Athletics Advisory Committee