The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) is the latest entity to dismiss standardized testing as a core requirement for student-athletic scholarships. Last month, both Division I (DI) and Division II (DII) councils voted in their respective meetings to eliminate it altogether.
The NCAA Eligibility Center once required students to earn a specific score on either their ACT or SAT to be qualified to compete, that score dependent on how strong their GPA was. The NCAA, along with several other colleges and universities, relaxed its testing requirements during the pandemic due to a lack of infrastructure and resources to support it. As more schools have chosen to permanently rescind testing requirements, the NCAA believes the exception is now the rule, too.
“As some NCAA member schools shift away from requiring standardized test scores for general student admissions, the Council felt it was appropriate to reflect those admission standards in eligibility requirements for incoming freshman student-athletes,” said Lynda Tealer, executive associate athletics director at Florida and chair of the Division I Council at the meeting on January 11.
Eliminating NCAA standardized testing requirements on the grounds of promoting equity equally drove the decision. The DI council said its decision was made at the recommendation of the NCAA task force, an organization that specialized in reviewing initial eligibility requirements inspired by the association’s eight-point plan to advance racial equity. Also, in July 2020, the National Association of Basketball Coaches said in a statement that testing should be “recognized as forces of institutional racism, which is consistent with their history, and they should be jettisoned for that reason alone.”
While testing requirements are now a thing of the past for most NCAA programs, both DI and DII programs still require minimum core-course GPA scores. DI schools require a 2.3 and DII 2.2. They must also earn 16 NCAA-approved core-course credits. For DI, ten of those credits have to be completed before a student’s seventh semester.
Some schools may still require standardized testing for scholarship eligibility and admission, so the NCAA advises student-athletes to check with individual schools when seeking to play at the next level.
Division III schools do not offer athletic scholarships, so they utilize a different method of granting scholarships.