By Steve Berkowitz


The NCAA announced Friday that it is dramatically reducing the academic requirements that incoming Division I freshman athletes will need to meet in order to be eligible to practice and play during the 2020-21 school year.

These athletes will not be required to submit an SAT or ACT score, and their classroom work during this academic year essentially will be disregarded if they had earned at least a 2.3 grade-point average in 10 NCAA-approved core courses prior to the start of their senior year of high school. Seven of those 10 classes must be in English, math or science.

The action was taken due to the disruptions in high school education and standardized testing that have occurred due to the coronavirus pandemic. High schools across the country have closed and attempted to move to distance-learning environments, in many cases with pass/fail grading for the spring semester. Meanwhile, multiple SAT and ACT testing dates have been canceled.

Normally, in order to practice, play or receive athletically related scholarship aid as a freshman, an athlete must complete at least 16 core high school classes with at least a 2.3 GPA and meet a minimum standardized-score requirement. Athletes with the minimum required GPA currently must get at least a 980 on the SAT or a 75 on the ACT.

The NCAA Division I Academic Committee, whose members come from the schools, “reviewed initial-eligibility data and determined the NCAA would offer flexibility for incoming student-athletes based on research, fairness, equity and a standard of college readiness,” the association said in a statement.

The Academic Committee is still addressing how these relaxed freshman-eligibility requirements may impact the academic standards that athletes must meet to remain eligible to play and that teams must meet to be eligible for postseason play, NCAA spokeswoman Michelle Hosick said.