In January, UC Berkeley Chancellor Nicholas Dirks announced the creation of the Task Force on Academics and Athletics. Dirks noted the graduation rates for two Cal teams (football and men’s basketball) had “lagging statistics” and Cal needed to make improvements. The task force was charged with making recommendations to improve academic performance of Cal athletes.
On Friday, the task force issued its 71-page report, offering more than 50 recommendations to maximize the academic performance of student-athletes. Chancellor Dirks announced that his administration endorsed all of the task force’s recommendations. The Admissions, Enrollment, and Preparatory Education (AEPE) Committee of the Academic Senate also took into account the recommendations of the task force and revised the athletic admissions policy.
The task force met over nine months and was composed of students, faculty, staff and alumni. The task force interviewed head coaches and attended information sessions on scheduling of athletic activities and the role of tutors, advisors and Graduate Student Instructors working with student-athletics. The task force also brought together a focus group and reviewed surveys of over 200 students-athletes concerning their experiences with academics and advising. Lastly, the task force made site trips to Stanford and UCLA and met with athletic and faculty administrators from Harvard and University of Virginia to discuss best practices of working with student-athletes.
As a result of the report, admissions standards for athletes will be adjusted. The task force reported the eight teams with the lowest graduate success rates often had athletes whose high school grade point averages and SAT scores were below the “principle gauge of UC eligibility and requirements.” Typically, UC students must have a 3.0 grade point average and have 500 or above on the Critical Reading and Math portions of the SAT. Therefore, student-athletes should be UC eligible to be accepted. The number of student-athletes admitted “by exception” will be “very limited and highly regulated.” The athletic admissions policy also reiterated that student-athletes at UC Berkeley are “students first, athletes second.”
In addition to admissions requirements, the task force discussed other concerns with the success of student-athletes. The task force suggested Cal must do more to support student-athletes once they are on campus including better academic advising and support services.
The task force reported the UC Berkeley community has not adequately supported all student-athletes. The goals of the recommendations of the task force are to “guarantee that our student-athletes are enabled to take full advantage of the extraordinary educational experience and preparation provided by our world-renowned programs and comprehensive academic excellence,” Dirks put in a statement on Friday. The task force has put together a recommended timeline to initiate changes, and some changes are set to happen this fall.