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Basketball coaches association calls for NCAA to stop considering SAT, ACT scores

Thanks to the pandemic, Division I and Division II athletes in the incoming class of 2020 did not have to report SAT and/or ACT scores to the NCAA Eligibility Center.

“We understand this is an unprecedented situation and a difficult time for students and their parents, and the Eligibility Center is working diligently to ensure the best possible outcome for college-bound student-athletes and our member schools," the organization said back in April.

The National Association of Basketball Coaches is now arguing the NCAA should make the change permanent.

“The NABC Committee on Racial Reconciliation believes that the SAT and ACT are longstanding forces of institutional racism and no longer have a place in intercollegiate athletics or higher education at large,” said committee co-chairmen Tommy Amaker and Frank Martin. Amaker is the head coach at Harvard, and Martin holds the same post at South Carolina. “This is an important step towards combating educational inequality in our country.”

“I am proud of the continued efforts of the Committee on Racial Reconciliation, and look forward to engaging further with the NCAA on this crucial topic,” added NABC Executive Director Craig Robinson. “We feel it is prudent for college athletics to address a standardized test structure that has long had disproportionately-negative impacts on low-income and minority students.”

As of Aug. 1, 2016, the NCAA requires all prospective athletes to pass 16 core courses with at least a 2.3 GPA, while meeting a sliding scale weighing both their core GPA and test scores. For example, a student with a 2.5 GPA must earn an 820 on the SAT, and a 2.025 GPA would require a 1,010 on the SAT.

In making its argument, the NABC produced an 18-page document that argues the SAT and ACT do a better job measuring students' socioeconomic backgrounds than their mental ability to succeed in college. In it, the document cites a 2019 article from The Atlanticthat details the racist history of the SAT:

 The original Scholastic Aptitude Test was invented in 1926 by Carl Brigham, a Princeton alumnus and avowed eugenicist who created the test to uphold a racial caste system. He advanced this theory of standardized testing as a means of upholding racial purity in his book A Study of American Intelligence. The tests, he wrote, would prove the racial superiority of white Americans and prevent “the continued propagation of defective strains in the present population”—chiefly, the “infiltration of white blood into the Negro.”

To combat this, the College Board, which administers the SAT, has added a "disadvantage score," which provides colleges with an "environmental college dashboard" contextualizing the background each test-taker comes from.

The NABC's argument goes a step further, providing a 10-page list of colleges and university systems that have stopped requiring standardized test scores for applicants -- though, in fairness, many of those changes are temporary.

If the NABC is successful in getting the NCAA to ditch the SAT, perhaps the rest of higher education would follow suit.