Because the COVID-19 pandemic made standardized testing impractical this past spring, the NCAA waived the requirement that incoming student-athletes pass a college entrance exam.
The National Association of Basketball Coaches, a group that includes coaches from both men’s and women’s teams, is now advocating that the college entrance exams be eliminated permanently not only for athletes but all prospective students.
The association trots out the same argument that has been used against standardized tests for years: namely, that they are culturally biased and penalize students from low-income and minority backgrounds.
Although there may be a little validity to that argument, there are much bigger concerns on which college basketball coaches should be focused, if they are truly worried about the academic welfare of their players.
Among them is the corrupting influence on academics of big-time college athletics. Most of these programs have no interest in whether their players wind up with a bona fide college education. They bring them onto campus to win games. The more they win, the better for the coaches in terms of salary and career advancement.
The super-talented players, an increasing number of whom come to college for just a year or two, are there to play basketball, get noticed by the pros and do as little in the classroom as possible to maintain their eligibility. The universities look the other way because they know that winning sports programs can spur donations from alums and help recruit other students.
It’s a system in which players — especially those at the high-profile colleges — are exploited by their schools and their coaches, not nurtured by them.
Then there’s the substandard education, even before they get to college, that many low-income and minority children receive. If they struggle to meet the usually low minimum requirements for admission on a college entrance test, the fault is not so much in the test as it is in the 12 to 13 years of formal schooling they received before taking it.
Do something about that more serious inequity, and the SAT and ACT will take care of themselves.