In 2012, the Office of Undergraduate Admissions worked with the Howard W. Odum Institute for Research in Social Science to develop a formula to predict first-year grade point averages for student-athletes during the admissions process.
Steve Farmer, vice provost for enrollment and undergraduate admissions, said the formula considers NCAA core courses from high school, ACT or SAT test scores and which sports team the candidate will join.
“We use the athletic program because in general, at the time we were doing the study, we found that women’s teams tended to perform better academically than men’s teams with similar credentialed students,” Farmer said.
The predicted GPA must be 2.3 or higher for admission, although the student can be reviewed by the Committee on Special Talent if he or she does not meet this requirement, according to the admissions report on enrolling student-athletes for the class entering in 2015.
Farmer said the main function of the predicted GPA is to help the athletics department understand how the student will be evaluated by the admissions office.
Joy Renner, chairperson of the Faculty Athletics Committee, said the predicted averages help coaches know who to start looking at and recruit.
Renner said the predicted averages are used when considering all potential student-athletes and benefit the athletic programs, the admissions office and the students.
“Most of these student-athletes have lots of opportunities and lots of different schools, so they’re not just looking at their athletic fit. They’re looking for their academic fit,” she said.
Renner said the admissions process considers various factors to figure out what kind of student the candidate will be.
“We’re also going to look at what high school they came from, total course load they took, how supportive of an environment they’re coming from and what kind of support they would need when they got here,” she said.
According to the admissions report, the predicted GPA was first used for students enrolling in 2013.
Renner said the Odum Institute monitors the formula to make sure it provides an accurate estimate.
“There’s so many other factors (affecting) whether someone is successful or not that we see a pretty wide range of students who are predicted to have a certain GPA. There’ll be some that are a whole grade point above it. There’ll be some that are right on the edge,” she said.
Renner said they want the process to be fair to students.
“It gives us one tool of many that we look at to decide if the student’s going to be successful,” she said.
Farmer said the predicted averages are one factor in student-athletes’ admissions.
“The (predicted) GPA is just one way of describing a person. It’s not the only way. It is a rough guide to evaluating students that we then use to go deeper,” Farmer said.
He said the predicted grade-point averages have been constructive to the admissions process.
“At the end of the day we are still evaluating people, and it’s an art and not a science,” Farmer said.