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April 9, 2008 - COIA calls for closer monitoring of college athlete’s courses

According to the NCAA, The Coalition on Intercollegiate Athletics (COIA) has issued a statement in response to recently published reports by the Ann Arbor News that college athletes at the University of Michigan were being “clustered” in less-challenging academic programs and allowed to enroll in independent-study courses as a way to improve their grade-point averages. COIA calls upon athletic departments to more closely monitor the courses taken by college athletes at their institutions. It is also reiterating its appeal for universities to adopt a proposal to collect data on enrollment and grading patterns of student-athletes.

The COIA, an alliance of 56 Division I faculty senates interested in advancing academic reform, stated in a 2007 white paper called “Framing the Future: Reforming Intercollegiate Athletics” that data on student-athletes’ choice of major should be gathered and evaluated by the campus faculty governance body or the Campus Athletic Board and should also be provided to all prospective recruits. Also, to preserve academic integrity, the COIA called for the campus faculty governance body or the Campus Athletic Board to monitor college athlete enrollment by course.

The organization’s statement as a result of the Ann Arbor News reports stated “such data should be designed to reveal whether there are clusters of athletes enrolled in identical courses or in courses with identical instructors, unusually high class GPAs in such courses or from such instructors, or grades significantly higher than predicted for athletes as compared to others in such courses or from such instructors.”

“The COIA has not investigated the charges at Michigan; it is not our role to do so and thus we take no position on the merits and specifics of the allegations,” the statement reads. “We point out, however, that we have previously taken note of similar accusations at other universities and have warned of the potential for such abusive practices in the absence of explicit policies and controls to prevent them.” Notably, there are individuals and other media organizations (including the Michigan Daily) who are critical of the the method of the investigation by the Ann Arbor News, and its conclusions.