University requires questionairre for athletes from suspect schools

The Faculty Senate committee charged with examining athletic admissions recommended that coaches recruiting from suspect schools complete a questionnaire detailing the academic rigors of the institution for admissions officers to examine.

The committee, chaired by law professor Jack Friedenthal, said the form will “require answers to a number of simple questions regarding the recruit’s experience at the school and should be accompanied by a brochure from the school describing its staff and academic program.”

The committee began the investigation in February, following stories in the New York Times and Washington Post that called to question the academic backgrounds of basketball players Omar Williams and Maureece Rice. The newspapers’ investigations found that Williams and Rice went to high schools in Philadelphia dubbed “diploma mills” where most students play basketball and do little to no work.

The NCAA Clearinghouse, an agency tasked with certifying high school diplomas and declaring players eligible for college athletics, certified several transcripts from the purported “diploma mills.” Friedenthal, who works with the NCAA on several committees, said in his report that the Clearinghouse determinations are flawed.

Friedenthal, a self-proclaimed GW basketball fan that sits in “Row A,” wrote in the committee’s report that the admissions department has acted reasonably with the information available. He conceded that there is a “large gap between the records and the reality as to the legitimacy of the education reflected by those records.”

Basketball players are not given an easier time in class by professors, Friedenthal wrote, noting that the graduation rate of students at GW – 80 percent – equals the graduation rate of athletes.

University President Stephen Joel Trachtenberg said at the Faculty Senate meeting that GW can choose to admit a student without a high school diploma for a number of reasons, but the University may receive more criticism for admitting an athlete without a high school diploma.

The report said that there are only a “handful” of recruited athletes who attend private high schools. The GW men’s basketball team has seven of 15 players from private institutions.

The Senate’s Athletics Committee includes John Banzhaf, Donald Drew, Jorge Garcia, Patrick McHugh, Lisa Delpy Nierotti, Patricia Sullivan, Gary Simon, Craig Linebaugh and Friedenthal. Senior Vice President for Student and Academic Support Services Robert Chernak, Director of Admissions Kathryn Napper and Director of Athletics Jack Kvancz were also present during meetings.

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