Mesa Community College school administrators agreed Monday not to raise academic eligibility requirements that had threatened some of the college’s athletes.
MCC football coach Dan Dunn said a Monday meeting with MCC officials, especially Patricia Cardenas-Adame, vice president of student affairs, was “real positive for me today.”
“They gave us what we wanted, and I think they got what they wanted,” Dunn said.
“They were thinking about revamping the structure of the scholarships that would have been even beyond the NCAA (requirements), which would have been detrimental to the program.”
At issue was the grade-point average required of student-athletes.
Dunn said MCC already has a higher grade-point average requirement for scholarship athletes than the National Junior College Athletic Association, of which it is a member.
“The NJCAA requires a 1.75 for the first semester and then a 2.0 after the first year,” Dunn said. “We require a 2.0 (immediately), and we feel that was fair.”
MCC officials agreed to keep the 2.0 grade-point average and 12 credit hours per semester requirements for athletes.
By comparison, Arizona State University requires a 1.8 grade-point average for eligibility for the first year and a 1.9 and 40 percent of a degree completed by the end of the second year.
Scholarship requirements affect football more so than other sports because of the number of athletes needed to fill out rosters and maintain a competitive program.
Dunn said MCC was alone among Maricopa community colleges in considering a higher academic requirement.
“This was just an in-house change, meaning other junior college programs would have had a distinctive advantage,” in recruiting athletes that fell below MCC’s standards, Dunn said.
Dunn admitted to “deep concern” over the proposal, and he entered Monday’s meeting without many specifics as to what was on tap.
“We were afraid it would be way above the norm,” he said.
MCC’s football team is currently 6-1 overall and 4-1 in the Western States Football League.
The Thunderbirds are a strong possibility to advance to the Valley of the Sun Bowl.
Dunn said that even during the meeting an exact grade-point average eligibility standard was not discussed, but said it was fair to assume it would have been higher than MCC’s current requirement.
“I understand that they want to get ballplayers to do a better job in the classroom, and so do I,” Dunn said. But “it definitely caused us some concern.”
Community colleges nationwide have been wrestling with the issue of academic standards for athletes, especially as the NCAA tightens its own eligibility requirements and more students begin to filter through the junior college ranks with hopes of making it to a four-year institution.
Dunn credited Cardenas-Adame with smoothing a potential problem.
“She had the best interest of the students at heart and she was a big reason the meeting went well,” Dunn said.
Cardenas-Adame did not immediately return a phone message.