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Abstract

This essay focuses on a topic of intense debate emerging over the last several years: strategies to improve the academic preparedness of collegiate student athletes. The issue should have been resolved with the passage of Proposition 48 in 1986. This measure stipulated that first-year students who wanted to compete in intercollegiate athletics Division I institutions must meet three requirements: 1) Completion of high school core curriculum; 2) Achieve a minimum grade point average of 2.0 (on a 4.0 scale); and 3) Earn a combined score of 700 on the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT), or score 15 or better on the American College Test (ACT).

Proposition 48, which was passed by the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), proved to be a divisive measure, which has led to a flurry of debates in the world of education and athletics. The opponents of Proposition 48 were primarily Black coaches and prominent civil rights leaders, such as Jesse Jackson, and former National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) president, Benjamin Hooks. These individuals and others believed that Proposition 48 was racist in its intentions because of the stipulation that required student athletes to score a minimum score of 700 on the SAT. Their argument was that African-Americans have had a long history of scoring poorly on standardized tests, such as the SAT primarily due to cultural bias. Many young African-American athletes were seen as not having the opportunity to strengthen their academic career, after years of special treatment and benign neglect by teachers throughout their educational career prior to college entrance.

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