While attending a media availability this afternoon with BPS Superintendant Dr. Carol Johnson, I asked her about the success English High has had holding its athletes to a higher academic standard.
Last year new English Headmaster Dr. Sito Narcisse increased the academic eligibility standards for athletes at his school from the district norm 1.67 to a 2.0. For years many coaches have argued that a 1.67, which is higher than the MIAA standards, is too high. They say having lower standards allows them to use sports as bait to keep kids in school. And once they are in school they can worry about improving their grades.
But after increasing its standards last winter, English only saw one player on its boys basketball squad fail off the team. This fall the O’Bryant school is holding its athletes to a 2.0 for the first time.
When asked if she would consider holding every school to those standards Dr. Johnson deferred to Athletics Director Ken Still. But she did say she increased athletic standards to a 2.0 when she was the superintendant in Minneapolis.
“People were complaining so I called the men’s basketball coach at the time at the University of Minnesota,” she said. “I said ‘what do you think about this?’ And he said ‘First of all if these kids come to play sports in college they are going to have to meet the NCAA standards. And if you fool them into thinking that they’re not because they don’t have high standards at their high school—if they don’t get like a like a 19 or whatever the ACT is, plus their GPA, whatever the GPA is — they won’t be able to play college sports anyway.’
“In a way you do them a disservice by not having high standards.”