The side door…
Ironically, as the FBI was investigating the play for pay scheme involving Adidas and college basketball coaches they uncovered another play for pay scheme. This one involved the use of the side door made famous by the rich and famous to get their kids into elite colleges. What may been lost in translation of this case is that the scandal focuses on athletes use the side door to get into school.
While this story has produced numerous segue issues of crime and corruption, the parents involved used coaches at various private schools to skate around normal admissions requirements. While the media has done a bang up job of covering the rich and famous side of this story, I would like to share the other side.
Every D-I university has a set of academic requirements for students to be admitted to a university. These same universities, both private and state use the side door to admit 10% of the students who fall below those levels. The side door can be used by a university to admit children of donors, alumni, celebrities and for that matter your Cousin Eddie. The side door can also be used to admit athletes. Here is how this works.
As many of you know from personal experience, a perfect score on the ACT is a 36. The NCAA allows athletes to be eligible at any D-I school, public or private with a 17 score on the ACT. At OU the required score for regular admission is a 24. Players whose scores fall between the 17 and 24 score can be admitted via the side door.
At Stanford the required ACT score for admission is a 32. While Stanford athletes tend to be extremely smart; there is no way any of their football players could score a 32 on the ACT. Heck, I can barely count that high myself. It has been my experience that Stanford coaches do somersaults when their prospective players score a 24 on the ACT.
The NCAA requires D-I member schools to field at least 14 teams. Okie State has the minimum of 14 teams while OU has 19. Big Ten universities sponsor as many as 31 teams. This means that a university can have hundreds, if not thousands of athletes on campus at one time. Without the 10% rule, this would not be possible.
As you can see, private schools use the sliding scale for its athletes similar to state universities. This is why a USC can compete for National Championships similar to an OU and Alabama. Most importantly, without a side door for college athletes; there would be no college sports. We would be sitting around on fall Saturday’s watching Law and Order reruns.
There you have it…the side door from another angle. May not be a perfect system, but as you can see, this is the cost of doing business in the college sports world.