Alabama, Texas & special admissions

From the AP: The review identified at least 27 schools where athletes were at least 10 times more likely to benefit from special admission programs than students in the general population.

That group includes 2009 Bowl Championship Series teams Oregon, Georgia Tech and Alabama, which is playing Texas for the national title Jan. 7.

At Alabama, 19 football players got in as part of a special admissions program from 2004 to 2006, the most recent years available in the NCAA report. The school tightened its standards for “special admits” in both 2004 and 2007, but from 2004 through 2006, Crimson Tide athletes were still more than 43 more likely to benefit from such exemptions.

Alabama coach Nick Saban offered no apologies.

“Some people have ability and they have work ethic and really never get an opportunity,” he said. “I am really pleased and happy with the job that we do and how we manage our students here, and the responsibility and accountability they have toward academics and the success that they’ve had in academics.”

The NCAA defines special admissions programs as those designed for students who don’t meet “standard or normal entrance requirements.” The NCAA says such exceptions are fine as long as schools offer the same opportunities to everyone from dancers, French horn players and underrepresented minorities as they do to fleet-footed wide receivers and 300-pound offensive linemen.

Texas was one of seven schools that reported no use of special admissions, instead describing “holistic” standards that consider each applicant individually rather than relying on minimum test scores and grade-point averages.

But the school also acknowledged in its NCAA report that athletic recruits overall are less prepared. At Texas, the average SAT score for a freshman football player from 2003 to 2005 was 945 — or 320 points lower than the typical first-year student’s score on the entrance exam.

School officials did not make coach Mack Brown or athletic director DeLoss Dodds available to comment.

In all, 77 of the 92 Football Bowl Subdivision schools that provided information to the AP reported using special admissions waivers to land athletes and other students with particular talents. The AP spent three months obtaining and reviewing the reports through state public records laws. (read the entire AP story embedded in this post)