Castlemont High has canceled its second football game on Friday because it lacks enough eligible players.
Skyline High, a school of nearly 2,000 students, forfeited its very first football game of the season — also, because it couldn’t field a team. At the time, its coach wrote a widely circulated letter to Superintendent Tony Smith saying the Oakland Athletic League’s new rules were keeping many of his otherwise-eligible players off the field.
The new rules, passed in the spring by high school principals who sit on the Oakland Athletic League policy committee, caused a big stir and plenty of confusion and alarm in the prep sports world. The policy originally stated that a student needed an overall 2.0 GPA, or C average, to be eligible (rather than a 2.0 in the previous marking period) as well as a certain number of credits. If not, the student would be sidelined for the entire school year.
So in the last few weeks, after plenty of, well, `input’ from coaches and others, the policy has softened. The GPA policy went back to the way it used to be (and the same as nearly every other league).
And perhaps more significantly, some players with poor academic records will have a second chance to participate on a team if they show they’re making up credits and raising their GPAs — if not for the fall season, possibly for a sport they play in the winter or spring. The OAL policy committee on Wednesday created an appeal process for players who are behind on credits or who received a GPA below a 2.0 in their last 6-week marking period.
What’s new this year, after all of the changes, has to do with making sure players aren’t falling behind on their course credits. The OAL is following a state law (and California Interscholastic Federation rules, pages 29-30) that requires leagues to monitor the credits accrued by student-athletes. To be eligible, according to the CIF, the student must be “maintaining minimum progress toward meeting the high school graduation requirements as prescribed by the governing board.”
Gil Lemmon, commissioner of the North Coast Section League, says its schools have similar credit requirements.
I visited the SPAAT program at McClymonds High earlier this month; despite its small size, Mack was able to weather the original changes and field a team for its first game. I found out that the high school’s student-athletes are required to participate in the after-school tutoring program, which also provides college counseling services.
Skyline also has tutoring available for its athletes, though — as of a week or so ago — the football program did not require its players to go. (Other sports teams at the school do have that requirement.)
What do you think about Oakland’s academic eligibility policy, and the way it’s shifted in the last six months? What do you think — or hope — it will mean for student-athletes who aren’t on track to graduate?