NCAA task force recommends removing minimum standardized test scores in effort to advance racial equity

An NCAA task force recommended on Friday that incoming freshmen in Division I and II sports should no longer be required to meet minimum scores on standardized tests for initial eligibility.

The recommendation was made by the NCAA Standardized Test Score Task Force, which was formed as part of the NCAA's eight-point plan to advance racial equity. The Division I Committee on Academics and Division II Academic Requirements Committee will consider the recommendation at their next scheduled meetings in February. Changes to initial-eligibility requirements would also have to be reviewed and made through each division's legislative process.

"This work reflects the NCAA's commitment to continually reviewing our academic standards based on the best available data and other relevant information," task force chairman David Wilson, president at Morgan State, said in an NCAA release. "We are observing a national trend in NCAA member schools moving away from requiring standardized test scores for admissions purposes and this recommendation for athletics eligibility aligns directly with that movement."

In the release, the NCAA said the task force consulted with several groups, including the Knight Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics, the National Association for College Admission Counseling, and Division I and II member schools, as well as the testing agencies, specifically the ACT and College Board, which administers the SAT.

In July 2020, the National Association of Basketball Coaches called for the NCAA to permanently eliminate standardized test scores from eligibility requirements.

"The days of colleges requiring the SAT or ACT are passing rapidly: more than half of all four-year colleges and universities will not require these tests for admissions in 2021, and more are dropping the requirement every week," the NABC said in a statement at the time. "These tests should no longer be required in the initial-eligibility standards. The tests are again being recognized as forces of institutional racism, which is consistent with their history, and they should be jettisoned for that reason alone; moreover, pragmatics also support this change."

The NCAA's eight-point plan to address racial equity and social justice also called for the NCAA to review the Academic Progress Rate and its impact on historically Black colleges and universities. In August, the Division I board of directors ratified a change that will allow Division I transfers to earn APR points for their previous teams if they meet progress-toward-degree requirements at their new schools.

Priscilla Rodriguez, vice president of college readiness assessments at the College Board, said the SAT should only be considered "in the context of where students live and go to school."

"But let me state unequivocally, the SAT itself is not a racist instrument," Rodriguez said in a statement. "Every question is rigorously reviewed for evidence of bias and any question that could favor one group over another is discarded. Further, changes made to the test over its 100-year history have removed all vestiges of an aptitude (or "IQ") test. Today's SAT is an achievement test that measures what is taught in high school and what students need to know to be prepared for college, and it helps millions of students, including hundreds of thousands of underrepresented minority, first-generation and rural students, show what they know and be seen by colleges."