Sports Law

NCAA Proposes Tougher Academic Integrity Policies for Division I

Academic misconduct has been become a major issue for the NCAA and it is considering tougher academic integrity policies in light of recent investigations and scandals. In January 2015, the NCAA announced that it was conducting an investigation on 20 schools, 18 of which being Division I, for academic misconduct. The academic misconduct scandal at the University of North Carolina received national attention, which concerned academic advisors recommending classes to athletes where they were not required to show up yet still received a grade in order to maintain the athlete’s eligibility. At Weber State University, a professor was assisting athletes by allowing them to cheat on examinations and quizzes, which resulted in the school being placed on probation for three years and the football program suffered a reduction in scholarships. Further, at the University of Georgia, the swimming coach was suspended for nine swim meets and a one year recruiting restriction was imposed after arranging to have an athlete enroll a student in a course.

In light of these events and numerous others, the Division I Council has sponsored a committee on academics for the purpose of drafting a proposal that would change how academic misconduct is regulated. If the proposal, which has been over two years in the making, is adopted it would be the first legislative change to the academic integrity policy since 1983. The membership can formally comment and propose amendments to the proposal in the Fall and will cast final votes in April 2016. The policy changes would take effect in August 2016 if adopted. The set of principles devised by the committee while drafting the proposal include:

  1. Intercollegiate athletics programs shall be maintained as a vital component of the educational program and athletes shall be an integral part of the student body.
  2. Academic misconduct legislation should be consolidated in one location in the Division I manual.
  3. Involvement of staff or coaches in athlete academic misconduct should be an NCAA violation.
  4. Schools must have and adhere to written academic misconduct policies.

The proposal, which was a collaboration between the Committee on Academics, Committee on Infractions, the Legislative Committee, external associations, and individual conferences, defines impermissible academic assistance as:

  1. Substantial academic assistance to a student-athlete not generally available to the school’s students or not expressly authorized by other Division I rules that causes the student to be declared eligible, receive aid or earn an Academic Progress Rate point.
  2. Creating an academic exception for a student-athlete to improve a grade, earn credit or meet a graduation requirement that is not generally available to the rest of the student body and that causes the student to be declared eligible, receive aid or earn an Academic Progress Rate point falsely.


Michelle Brutlag Hosick, Division I to consider tougher academic integrity policies, NCAA (Jun. 26, 2015, 8:46am),

SI Wire, NCAA investigated 20 schools for academic misconduct, Sports Illustrated (Jan. 21, 2015),