Intercol split on no-GPA proposal
Members of the local college sport fraternity have opposing views on a proposed dropping of a minimum grade point average (GPA) stipulation for participation in competitions, which fall under the auspices of the Intercollegiate Sports Association (Intercol).
The new rule, which was voted on at Intercol's annual general meeting held at the Montego Bay Community College two weeks ago, means athletes no longer need to have at least a 2.0 GPA to compete in tertiary level sports.
Intercol's general secretary, Laurence Garriques, told The Gleaner that the body looked at the standards worldwide and decided to drop the GPA requirement as no international body, including the governing body for university sports, FISU, had such a stipulation.
"And as such, we saw it fit to be more inclusive, to have fully registered students in any tertiary institution (compete). The GPA requirements can be that of the university standard so they could do that. There was a review of our operations, and based on our discussions, we saw it fit at this time. It was voted on at the AGM and gotten the nod. It was overwhelming," Garriques said.
However, it's a decision that has received mixed reviews.
Director of Sports at The Mico University College, Raymond Graham, does not agree with the move noting that Jamaican high-school athletes compete in the Penn Relays and other international meets and are required to have a minimum academic standard.
"This is a sad day for intercollegiate sport. A student could go through a four-year period without attaining a diploma or a degree. With this relaxation, in the process more attention will be on participating in sporting activities and ignoring their academics," Graham said.
Head athletics coach at the University of Technology, Paul Francis, believes the new system is more equitable. The old system, he said, was unfair to the University of the West Indies and UTech, which have different matriculation standards than other tertiary institutions across the country.
"I think it is to an advantage to sport as a competition. The rule as it was, was literally copy and pasted from the NCAA. The NCAA has hundreds of universities, all of them are of the same ilk. They even went into separating groups by budget, and so when you put a set of rules it applies to everybody with equal situations," Francis said, noting that in Jamaica, there are two universities, several teachers' colleges, and community colleges. All fall under the umbrella of Intercol.
"So what was happening was that ... a student in medicine who may have had five CAPE and 12 CXCs already and had a poor run and has a 1.60 GPA is unable to compete, but somebody else, who has barely scratched the frame, is able to compete. It was not equally measured," he added.
Acting principal at the G.C. Foster College of Physical Education and Sport, Maurice Wilson, himself the institution's head of athletics, said an academic "cut off" should be established.
"It doesn't matter if a youngster is doing a short course or full programme. There must be some accountability for their academic life ... something that says our students have basic academic requirements," Wilson concluded.
Francis agreed with the idea of schools having their own minimum academic standard.
"I think it is unfair for UWI or UTech to not have 10 to 12 students each year when they are not necessarily the worst students."