Indiana school board votes to lower GPA standards for athletes

August 4, 2015 / Athletic AdministrationCoaching
The South Bend Community School Corp. (Indiana) voted Monday to relax the academic requirements for student-athletes, allowing most to maintain a sub-2.0 GPA and still retain their eligibility.

South Bend Community School Corp.
South Bend Community School Corp.

Former Notre Dame men’s basketball coach Digger Phelps was among those who spoke out against the change, according to the South Bend Tribune. The measure, which passed by a 5-2 vote, allows freshmen to participate with a 1.5 GPA, sophomores with a 1.67 GPA and juniors with a 1.85 GPA. Standards for seniors will remain at 2.0.

From the South Bend Tribune:

The policy revision approved by the board Monday also calls for allowing students who struggle to continue playing if they meet Indiana High School Athletic Association guidelines for eligibility and take part in study tables and show improving grades.

Intermediate center students only have to meet IHSAA requirements, which call for student athletes to pass 70 percent of classes with a D-minus or better.

School board President Jay Caponigro said the board will carve out the funding for and hold the administration responsible for implementing high-quality study tables at all four high schools. The district athletic director also will be responsible for collecting data on the impact of the new policy, Caponigro said, and reporting it to the board and the public at least annually.

Phelps was joined by the former South Bend superintendent in favoring the 2.0 requirement across the board. One coach who supported the change said students are falling through the cracks and “athletics is a way to potentially save them,” according to the article.

Last month, Phelps wrote this editorial voicing is opposition to the plan.

“The school corporation needs to tap the abundant resources afforded by thousands of Notre Dame students, 85 percent volunteering for community service, and the students from all the other local colleges, to help with mentoring, with tutoring, with preparing kids for the competition that really counts in the game of life,” Phelps wrote.

“Critics of higher standards say they are unfair to minority kids. Are they saying minority kids can’t meet higher standards? Challenge them. Help them. They will respond. Weakening standards is what would be unfair to them.”

South Bend Community School Corp. oversees 33 schools, four being public high schools.

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