Student-Athlete Task Force Releases Report, Recommendations

June 21, 2004

by Lori Scott Fogleman

The full report is available here.

The eight-member student-athlete assessment task force, appointed March 4 by Baylor University President Robert B. Sloan Jr., has released its recommendations on the university's standards and policies for the future recruitment, admission and certification of prospective student-athletes. The task force was chaired by Grant Teaff, executive director of the American Football Coaches Association and former Baylor head football coach.
"I am grateful for the dedicated work and the clearly intense and focused effort that Grant Teaff and the entire task force have made in producing this report," Sloan said. "They not only have completed their work within the requested timeframe, but they have succeeded superbly in producing a document that I think has real value not only for Baylor, but also potentially for college athletics throughout the nation."
Appointment of the task force was recommended by the university's Compliance Investigation Committee, following a seven-month investigation into the Baylor men's basketball program. The task force met for approximately 44 hours over a two-month period to address academics, character and official visits for prospective student-athletes.
Based on changing NCAA legislation, interviews with Baylor coaches and student-athletes, a review of the literature and a statistical analysis of student-athlete academic success rates at Baylor, the following recommendations were made:

1. Baylor should, because admissions standards need to be tied to the university's unique academic demands, maintain its current standards of a minimum SAT of 820 (or ACT of 68) and a qualifying core GPA, despite the fact that NCAA initial eligibility legislation now features an index with no minimum score required on the SAT/ACT as long as the core high school GPA is high enough.
2. Baylor should provide a quick academic screen of all prospective student-athletes, whether they are an incoming freshman, transfer student or international student, early in the recruiting process.
3. Transfer and international students will, in addition to a quick academic screen, have their academic records analyzed by an Academic Review Committee (ARC). Further, the admissions decision on each transfer and international student will be made by the ARC, whose members are employed outside the athletic department.
4. All prospective student-athletes should have three character references completed using the Character Reference Form (CRF), Baylor's own internally developed instrument for evaluating, among other characteristics, an individual's social decision making, peer group interactions, dependability, self-discipline, and contributions to the community.
5. All transfer students should, in addition to having the CRF filled out, provide written permission to have a criminal background check completed and a request for records of any disciplinary actions occurring in college.

"The charge to the task force from Dr. Sloan was clear, and the final recommendations fit those charges and will accomplish the goals of helping Baylor coaches increase their success rate in recruiting student-athletes of character and with the ability to achieve academic success," Teaff said. "The recommendations are extremely positive, and from a national perspective, I believe some other institutions may look favorably upon similar recommendations for their own programs."
A pilot study will be completed in 2004-2005 on a subset of athletic programs at Baylor to determine the "best practice" before fully implementing the character screening process to all athletic programs the following academic year. The task force also will submit a brief report on suggested rules and procedures relating to official visits following the publication of a final report by the NCAA Task Force, which is expected later this summer.
"I commend the task force on developing a series of measures that will strengthen our commitment to student-athlete success and in turn make a positive contribution to Baylor athletics," said Ian McCaw, director of athletics at Baylor and an ex-officio member of the task force. "Successful implementation of the task force's recommendations will provide our coaches with additional resources that will assist them in recruiting student-athletes who possess the characteristics to thrive at Baylor."
Joining Teaff on the task force were Dutch Baughman, executive director of the Division IA Athletic Directors' Association; Mark Dunn, professor of marketing and chair of Baylor's Faculty Athletics Council; Gina Green, assistant professor of information systems; Jaffus Hardrick, assistant vice president for human resource services and assistant vice provost; Bethany McCraw, associate dean for judicial and legal student services; Eric Robinson, assistant professor of educational psychology; and Melanie Smith, academic adviser in Baylor's student-athlete services department. Ex-officio members of the task force included Noley Bice, Baylor's general counsel; Clyde Hart, associate athletics director and head track coach; Monica Love, assistant athletics director for compliance; McCaw; and Michael Rogers, professor of law and faculty athletics representative to the NCAA and Big 12.
Beyond its original charge, the task force discussed additional issues, as the university continues to concentrate on the academic and social development of its student-athletes. The ideas include:

1. Assessment of how student-athletes are incorporated into the Baylor culture throughout their academic and athletic career.
2. The task force should reconvene at some point in the future to review the findings of the pilot study and review the effects of the academic and character policies and procedures.
3. The task force should review Baylor's recruiting policies in accordance with the recent Big XII Conference directive to all of its members.
4. Completing a longitudinal study on the predictive validity of the Student Athlete Character Reference Form (CRF) would be of benefit in order to improve the quality of social information Baylor gathers on prospective student athletes.

"The task force produced conclusions that indicate a wide range of participation and broad-based commitment, especially the use of the athletic department as a resource and the head coaches for all sports who were invited to participate in the formulation of the final recommendations," Sloan said. "I look forward to the implementation of their work."