One thing about next year’s recruiting scene that isn’t getting much attention now, but I suspect will as things move on, is that 2016 marks the year when the NCAA’s new academic standards for high schoolers kick in. And they’re a fairly big deal:
The new initial-eligibility requirements create a higher academic standard for freshman to play. That standard is higher than what will be needed to receive aid and practice, creating an academic redshirt year.
Student-athletes who achieve the current minimum initial-eligibility standard will continue to be eligible for athletically related financial aid during the first year of enrollment and practice during the first regular academic term of enrollment. Student-athletes could earn practice during the second term of enrollment by passing nine semester or eight quarter hours.
For immediate access to competition, prospective student-athletes must achieve at least a 2.3 GPA and an increased sliding scale. For example, an SAT score of 1,000 requires a 2.5 high school core-course GPA for competition and a 2.0 high school core-course GPA for aid and practice.
Prospects also must successfully complete 10 of the 16 total required core courses before the start of their senior year in high school. Seven of the 10 courses must be successfully completed in English, math and science.
The ostensible purpose is to make sure that incoming student-athletes are better prepared to handle the academic pressures of college. Whether that works is something we’ll have to wait to judge, but even with the four-year transition period to adapt to the new requirements, I expect we’ll see a larger number of kids in the 2016 class who aren’t accepted by D-1 schools than we’ve previously seen. Those whispers you hear about a particular kid’s grades being shaky may have more weight than ever.