A proposal to toughen admission standards at the University of North Dakota and North Dakota State University is still just that a proposal. But it's already generating concern from a number of sources, and rightly so.
New university system chancellor Hamid Shirvani proposed that admission standards at UND and NDSU should be tougher, with students gaining entrance through a system using a combination of a student's high school class rank, grade-point average, core classes completed and ACT scores. University presidents would have some leeway to add students under special circumstances, but that number would be capped at 5 percent of the total freshman class from the previous year. This year, roughly 7 percent of freshmen at UND and NDSU were admitted despite having ACT scores lower than required for automatic admission.
Don Morton, a member of the board of higher education, suggested that the proposed rules could present problems for athletic programs. Shirvani responded by saying that perhaps student-athletes could be put into a separate category.
So let's get this straight: We want to make it more difficult for the average North Dakota student to get into the state's largest universities, but we'd be willing to make exceptions for a kid from California or somewhere else simply because he's a good wide receiver?
Come on. If we want to make entrance into UND and NDSU more of a privilege, except for athletes, then let's stop calling them "student-athletes" every chance we get. There's nothing wrong with holding athletes, sorry, student-athletes, to the same levels of academic expectations as the rest of the students at those universities. Whatever good intentions supporters of this idea have would be instantly discredited by creating a separate category for "student-athletes."