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What is Ethics?

Before one can speak about ethical issues, a definition of ethics must be provided. According to many scholars, ethics is the study of standards of conduct, moral judgement and moral philosophy. The term ethical is defined as having to do with ethics or morality; of or conforming to moral standards. In the case of Academic Integrity, ethical would refer to conforming to the standards of the conduct of the governing body--the NCAA. We all follow rules everyday. No matter how insignificant a rule may seem, we must follow them. Rules are in place for a reason. This is also true of the NCAA.

NCAA Standards

The 1996-97 NCAA Manual has 579 pages of rules, most of these rules are a result of cheating. Fifty-two (52) pages deal specifically with Academic Eligibility.

Academic eligibility covers initial eligibility, transfer eligibility, and continuing eligibility (satisfactory progress). The NCAA determines initial eligibility, whereas the University determines transfer and continuing eligibility.

Satisfying Standards vs. Looking the Other Way

Universities, through the CEO and FAR, are responsible for having Institutional Control of all phases of academic integrity.

For initial eligibility, the NCAA Clearinghouse only serves as a screening mechanism for the Student-Athlete's test score(s) and transcript. The University is responsible for insuring the validity of the test score(s) and transcript, even after the Student-Athlete has been certified by the Clearinghouse. For Universities who have a thorough validation procedure, an "uneven playing field" may be created if other competing Universities do not use the same procedure.

For transfer eligibility, the University is responsible for documenting that the Transfer Degree is academic and it is valid. Is it easier for the University to accept a degree than to question the validity? What if other competing Universities do not question the validity?

Coaches Reward System

Coaches are rewarded by Universities for winning and fired for not winning. Coaches are usually not rewarded for academic integrity; however, coaches have been fired for an NCAA infraction in academics. Is the coaches reward system set-up to insure academic integrity?

Playing by the Academic Rule

Faculty Athletic Representative (FAR) and the CEO at each university are responsible for insuring Academic Integrity. This requires an academic integrity system that functions according to NCAA and university rules, and is independent of pressure to win at any cost. The FAR may become an unpopular person, because most coaches think other universities use a less stringent academic procedure. How do athletic conferences insure uniform standards among competing universities within the conference?

An NCAA infraction case in academics can be devastating to the university's academic reputation. It is the most serious infraction. How can academic integrity be protected?

NCAA Infraction Case

Recently, a major University forfeited all basketball games of the past season based on two Student-Athletes. In both cases, a grade of "D" for a course in the Student-Athletes major was used for a requirement in general University requirements, because it could not be used under the major. Most Universities do not allow a "D" to be used in the major. These players were certified by the University as eligible and competed. This was an error in certification.

The University claimed it to be a clerical error. The NCAA did not accept an error or a lack of knowledge in applying the "D" as an excuse.

Doing it Right Because it is Right: An Ethical Issue

Universities have to maintain high academic integrity for Student-Athletes because it is the right thing to do, and to protect the Academic Integrity of the University and the Student-Athlete.

This is the ethical issue that "face all Universities". Some Universities do it because of possible NCAA infractions, while other Universities do it because it is right. The ethical position is doing it because its "right".

Copyright CARL ASP, PH.D.

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Last updated: July 22, 1997