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PSAL raises bar on academic standards

John Adams' Coach Alex Navarrete talks to his team last year. Photo by Yinghao Luo
TimesLedger Newspapers

The Public School Athletic League’s new academic standards make it tougher for athletes to suit up for their school.

The long overdue improvements upon previously subpar regulations demand athletes graduate on time and work to ensure they are eligible for college and potential athletic scholarships.

The new rules, which take effect September 2013, require greater attention to athletes’ school work from the players, parents, coaches and administrators to ensure the kids who need help don’t fall behind.

“Everybody’s got to stay on the kids a little more,” said Arnie Rosenbaum, the Francis Lewis athletic director and girls’ volleyball coach.

Students will have to pass five subjects plus gym, three of which must be major subjects, such as English, math, social studies and science. In the past, it was any four classes and gym.

Starting in February 2014, an athlete must accumulate two more credits than before, excluding gym, for two semesters prior to the beginning of their season. They must also achieve an overall average of 65, unless the school requires higher. Amazingly, there was no grade-point average requirement in the past. The city for years let borderline kids skate by, and the students paid a price.

The move was made to raise graduation rates and get athletes in line with the more demanding NCAA Clearinghouse standards to play Division I and II sports. For incoming athletes, the NCAA requires a 2.3 grade-point average or 78 in number scores and completion of 10 of 16 required core courses before athletes’ senior year.

In the PSAL, players will also be required to have 90 percent attendance at the end of each marking period, which means they can only miss three to four classes each term. Principals can override this in extenuating circumstances.

Even so, this could be one of the hardest standards to meet.

John Adams boys’ soccer Coach Alex Navarette said his school averages a 75 percent rate. He would like a clarification on the rule and if it includes days like graduation where attendance is taken, but most students are not present.

“The 90 percent is just going to kill us,” Navarrete said.

Other coaches worry about what happens to kids who fall behind under the new rules. Students always deserve a second chance.

Cardozo boys’ basketball head man Ron Naclerio believes the 10-credit rule could make it harder for players who become ineligible to become eligible again. Students may not be able to make up the credits if a school dealing with overcrowding and budget cuts does not have the resources to let them.

“For the athletes, once you screw up, it’s going to be a lot harder to fill the hole you dug for yourself,” he said.

Despite some issues, this is a well-intentioned attempt to finally push athletes to get the most out of their education.

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