Journalism courses more likely to count toward NCAA eligibility requirementsunder new rules

Under new rules issued by the National CollegiateAthletic Association last week, high school students will no longer haveto choose between taking a journalism course and playing Division I collegesports.

The NCAA’s new regulations no longer dictate to schools what must beincluded in a class for it to count toward one of the 13 “core courses”incoming college freshmen must have completed to participate in a DivisionI athletic program. Instead, the new rules simply require a core courseto qualify for high school graduation credit in certain academic areas,such as English or math.

The new rules would allow a student to take a journalism course, forexample, and have it count toward his or her English requirement as longas the course also qualifies as an English course for the purposes of thestate’s graduation requirements. The course could count toward the NCAA’selective requirement as well.

Under the NCAA’s old requirements, 75 percent of an English course hadto include “instructional elements in the following areas: grammar, vocabularydevelopment, composition, literature, analytical reading, or oral communication”to count as a core course. It was up to the NCAA to decide whether a particularcourse qualified or not. In the past, the NCAA said many journalism coursesdid not qualify, despite teachers’ arguments that the courses taught studentswriting and analytical skills. If a journalism course did not count towardthe NCAA English requirement, it could not qualify for the elective requirement,either. (Seethe Student Press Law Center’s August 1997 special report: “NCAA vs. ThePress.“)