NCAA scholarships now take five

While coaches question the logistics and logic of an NCAA proposal to curb when they can make scholarship offers, they all agree that one part of the potential rule is downright brilliant.

In the proposal made by the Recruiting and Athletics Personnel Issues cabinet, in order to be offered a scholarship, a recruit will have to have turned over at least five semesters or seven quarters worth of high school transcripts.

“We think the academics is a key part of this potential legislation and we didn’t want to move forward without tying that in,’’ said UCLA associate athletic director Petrina Long, who chaired the cabinet. “We picked the fifth term because we believed by then, you should be showing a trend toward having the quality of grades and classes you’ll need.’’

It’s a welcome change for college coaches who often find themselves waiting on transcripts. Summer league and high school coaches who aren't on the up-and-up often refuse to turn over their prospect’s transcripts, knowing that a less-than-stellar academic record can be a scholarship deal breaker.

But this rule not only stops that practice, it helps kids who are behind figure out what they need to do before it’s too late.

“That helps everybody,’’ Memphis coach Josh Pastner said. “The earlier we can check on a kid’s academics the better it is for everyone. That’s proactive. For some kids, you get their transcripts in advance [and] you can help guide them through what they need in their core. They may need summer school. They don’t realize that. Some school counselors don’t even know. We can help them.’’

Pastner even suggested the proposal go one step further. Not only should prospects have to turn over five semesters worth of transcripts before being eligible to receive a scholarship, but they also have to be registered with the NCAA Eligibility Center.

And Georgia Tech coach Paul Hewitt proposed using the academics as an incentive, making a sort of sliding scale akin to the one used for test scores and GPAs.

“If they do tinker with it, I’d like to see some way where say, if you have a 3.0 in your core, you can accept a scholarship after your sophomore year,’’ he said. “If you tell a kid, ‘Hey if you have this GPA you can accept a scholarship earlier, maybe then you’ll get them headed in the right direction earlier.’’