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NCAA loosens initial eligibility thresholds for incoming freshmen from class of 2020, waives standardized test requirement

By: MATTHEW B. MOWERY, April 17, 2020, 5:27 pm

If you’re an athlete in the Class of 2020, and worried about your inability to take either the SAT or the ACT with schools shut down by the COVID-19 pandemic, you needn’t be.

The NCAA announced Friday that it was waiving the stipulation that incoming collegiate freshman need to have a qualifying score on one of the standardized tests.

“The Eligibility Center is navigating the complexity of COVID-19 and its negative impact on our membership, high schools and student-athletes,” said Felicia Martin, vice president of the NCAA Eligibility Center in a news release Friday. “We understand this is an unprecedented situation and a difficult time for students and their parents, and the Eligibility Center is working diligently to ensure the best possible outcome for college-bound student-athletes and our member schools.” 

[To read the full news release, CLICK HERE.]

Students who are expected to graduate in time to enroll in a Division I or Division II school for the fall need only earn a grade-point average of at least 2.3 in 10 core classes (the threshold is a 2.2 GPA for DII) through the start of their senior year to be eligible to play.

“We are keenly aware of the educational disruptions and academic uncertainty that prospective student-athletes are experiencing,” Martin said. “To that end, the Eligibility Center is committed to providing support and flexibility in application of initial-eligibility requirements as we remain nimble for additional issues we can’t predict or forecast.”

The news release also said that the Eligibility Center would adjust its procedures with respect to distance or e-learning programs, dropping the requirement of a separate review for approval,  as well as pass/fail grades in core courses, which will now be assigned a 2.3 value. It will also allow Division I athletes to complete up to six core courses after the start of their senior year (normally, only one is allowed in D-I; D-II athletes can already take up to six), and that students can finish core courses in the spring and summer.