High school districts across the U.S. impose minimum GPA requirements for athletes; however, no national standard exists. This is not true for students who want to compete in college. As of 2016 the NCAA is increasing high school GPA eligibility requirements to play college sports. This change acknowledges that athletes are first and foremost students who need to acquire marketable skills before graduation. Only a miniscule number of college athletes--and .0000625 percent of high school athletes--make it to the professional level. Additionally, because student athletes serve as role models to the greater student population, they should be held to academic standards.
Few College Athletes
Only 7.6 percent of high school athletes play college sports, according to ScholarshipStats. Percentages vary by sport, with 11.7 percent of ice hockey players and 11.2 percent of baseball players making the transition from high school to college, but only 3.3 percent of wrestlers, 5.9 percent of basketball players and 7.8 percent of football players. The NCAA reports that a mere two percent of high school athletes are awarded scholarships to compete at the college level.
Student athletes who want to compete in college are being held to higher GPA requirements. As of 2016 NCAA will require high school athletes to have a 2.3 GPA, up from a 2.0 GPA, to compete in Division I or II colleges. No minimum national GPA standard exists in Division III; although NCAA specifies that "student-athletes in that division must be in good academic standing and make satisfactory progress toward a degree as determined by the institution."
High school and college athletes serve as role models to student bodies and should be held to quality academic standards. Allowing failing or nearly failing students to compete encourages the message that student athletes do not need to achieve academically. The goal of secondary and higher education is to prepare students for their futures; the best way to do this is by ensuring their successful academic career.
Preparing for Life
Of all college athletes, only 1 percent go professional, according to USA Today. Without a backup plan, such as academic preparation in one or more disciplines, college athletes struggle to find fruitful and meaningful work. The NCAA's stricter requirements for college players' high school GPAs acknowledge that athletes need to build a foundation for attainable careers while they are in high school.
- Georgia Career Information Center: From High School to Pro – How Many Will Go?
- ScholarshipStats: Chances of a High School Athlete playing College Sports
- National Collegiate Athletic Association: National Letter of Intent: Athletic Scholarships
- USA Today College: College Athletes Suffer the Greatest Injustice from NCAA
- Photo Credit Comstock/Comstock/Getty Images