Reviewing the decision

Thursday, April 26, 2007

The "no pass, no play" requirement in Iowa for high school students to be eligible to participate in sports has generated numerous complaints. Academic ineligibility has reportedly tripled in the state.

The response of the Iowa Board of Education is to appoint a committee to look into the guidelines, but if any changes are made, it won't be until after the 2007-08 school year.

The committee is expected to issue a report in January.

Under the rules implemented this school year, athletes are required to pass all their classes to participate in sports, and students who fail one or more classes must sit out 20 school days during a sport's season before resuming eligibility.

This may seem to be a reasonable requirement, at least it did to a majority of state legislators last year, but there are special circumstances. Sometimes an otherwise good student simply cannot get the subject matter of a particular course.

There are also potential consequences not reflected in the increased number of ineligible athletes. More students will likely avoid challenging classes as the negative consequences of failure increase for student athletes.

This remains an area where decisions are best made at the local level.